pres·​ent·​ly | \ˈpre-zᵊnt-lē \

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

In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring. ... Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Trump dismisses the economic impact of climate change — except at his golf course," 27 Nov. 2018 These remnants would help bridge incompatible theories of the cosmos at its largest and smallest scales, as well as possibly constitute a sizable portion of the presently unaccounted-for dark matter. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 But flying requires an incredible amount of energy, and presently, batteries are too heavy and too expensive to achieve liftoff. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Electric flight is coming, but the batteries aren’t ready," 14 Aug. 2018 That's a perfect example of when laws and policy are not in touch with humanity and what's going on presently, when someone's trying to do a good thing. Mehera Bonner, Marie Claire, "Bryce Dallas Howard on Body Image, Social Media, and Gaining 30 Pounds for 'Black Mirror'," 26 Oct. 2016 Along with her one-on-one students, Caplan has also become a go-to vocal consultant for Broadway productions, presently including the new musical of Disney's Frozen. Rebecca Milzoff, Billboard, "Billboard on Broadway Podcast: Behind the Scenes of Stage & Screen With Vocal Coach Liz Caplan," 19 Mar. 2018 The non-San Diego finalists are presently constructed to win more games in 2018. Dennis Lin,, "Padres could be favorite to sign Shohei Ohtani," 4 Dec. 2017 The station presently exists in a purgatory-like state as its owner, billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun, undertakes steps to prevent any further structural decay in case an opportunity for redevelopment ever presents itself. Dan Austin And Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Archive: Once crown jewel, Detroit train station now symbol of ruin," 11 June 2018 The Cardinals presently have nine cornerbacks under contract, but they were believed to have interest in both Beal and Alexander, who are seen as NFL-ready prospects capable of making an immediate impact as rookies. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Two players get selected in NFL supplemental draft, but Cardinals don't get involved," 11 July 2018

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

7 Dec 2018

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 \

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 make faulty or ineffective

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