pres·​ent·​ly | \ ˈpre-zᵊnt-lē How to pronounce presently (audio) \

Definition of presently

1a archaic : at once
b : without undue delay : before long
2 : at the present time : now

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Usage 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 in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

And when even the most historically respected and presently influential publications publish reckless attacks on due process and dangerous calls for personal confrontation, that challenge grows more acute. David French, National Review, "In the New York Times, a ‘Human Rights’ Professor Calls for Mob Rule," 1 July 2019 Now, candidates across the board are being asked for their position on the issue presently, as schools across the country remain largely segregated to this day. NBC News, "Busing becomes focal point of Democratic primary after Biden-Harris debate exchange," 30 June 2019 Traffic on South Road is hazardous at certain times of the day, what will happen when the medical buildings that are presently under construction will be completed?, "Community News For The Farmington Valley Edition," 28 June 2019 Over the next five years, Relativity will invest $60 million in infrastructure and grow its on-site team from 10 employees—presently engaged in engine and stage testing at a Stennis facility—to 200 workers. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Where will the world’s first autonomous rocket factory be built? Mississippi," 11 June 2019 As many as 10,000 websites are presently unavailable in China, barring the use of a VPN. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "The Guardian and Washington Post are the latest casualties of China’s Great Firewall," 9 June 2019 Critics, including the American Chamber of Commerce, point out that Hong Kong presently enjoys a reputation for being a relatively low-crime jurisdiction. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Everything you need to know about Hong Kong’s extradition law," 11 June 2019 Play Ball serves as a platform to connect with those who are presently taking part in the game, while also providing alternative ways for those looking to get involved, with a specific focus on youth participation. Gary Curreri,, "Play Ball initiative slated for Pembroke Pines," 7 June 2019 Its founders presently enjoy an estimated 50% of Africa's phone market share and are the largest handset providers on the continent, according to technology research firm, Canalys. Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "How China's Boomplay beat Spotify and Apple to corner Africa's streaming market," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'presently.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of presently

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for presently

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for presently

The first known use of presently was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for presently



English Language Learners Definition of presently

: during the time that is happening now : at the present time
: after a short time


pres·​ent·​ly | \ ˈpre-zᵊnt-lē How to pronounce presently (audio) \

Kids Definition of presently

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on presently

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presently

Spanish Central: Translation of presently

Nglish: Translation of presently for Spanish Speakers

Comments on presently

What made you want to look up presently? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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