presence of mind

noun phrase

: self-control so maintained in an emergency or in an embarrassing situation that one can say or do the right thing

Examples of presence of mind in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Poetry is a path back and away from that mind-set and toward a presence of mind and concentration that fosters possibility. New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 May the Lord grant me the presence of mind to accept my mid-thirties friends’ hectic lives and the nerve to ask them to be just slightly flexible but, like, no worries if not. Irving Ruan, The New Yorker, 28 July 2023 However, the teen had the presence of mind to grab a stick and begin hitting the animal. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 26 June 2023 Lucky for you, one of the other players has the presence of mind to call 911. Colin Nissan, The New Yorker, 19 June 2023 The year 2003 was before smartphones became widespread, but Bates had the presence of mind to get his video camera and record what would come to be a new kind of fire. John Vaillant, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presence of mind.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1624, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of presence of mind was circa 1624

Dictionary Entries Near presence of mind

Cite this Entry

“Presence of mind.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

presence of mind

: ability to think clearly and act quickly in an emergency
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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