adverb pres·ent·ly \ˈpre-zənt-lē\

: during the time that is happening now : at the present time

: after a short time

Full Definition of PRESENTLY

a archaic :  at once
b :  without undue delay :  before long
:  at the present time :  now

Usage Discussion of PRESENTLY

Both senses 1b and 2 are flourishing in current English, but many commentators have objected to sense 2. Since this sense has been in continuous use since the 15th century, it is not clear why it is objectionable. Perhaps a note in the Oxford English Dictionary (1909) that the sense has been obsolete since the 17th century in literary English is to blame, but the note goes on to observe that the sense is in regular use in most English dialects. The last citation in that dictionary is from a 1901 Leeds newspaper, written in Standard English. Sense 2 is most common in contexts relating to business and politics <the fastest-rising welfare cost is Medicaid, presently paid by the states and cities — William Safire>

Examples of PRESENTLY

  1. <I cannot attend to the matter this instant, but I will presently.>
  2. <we are presently waiting in line for our turn>

First Known Use of PRESENTLY

14th century
PRESENTLY Defined for Kids


adverb pres·ent·ly \ˈpre-zənt-lē\

Definition of PRESENTLY for Kids

:  before long :  soon <He searched … for fallen limbs of trees; presently he found a … branch. — Virginia Hamilton, M. C. Higgins>
:  at the present time :  now <She's presently at home.>


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