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 The creator economy, therefore, becomes easier for consumers to navigate—they are no longer inundated by nearly identical content that is made to take advantage of whatever algorithm is presently in use. Tomas Andren, Forbes, 16 May 2022 The Police Department is presently working under the terms of a labor contract that expired at the end of 2019. Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 Tyler has been a regular member of the Community Division’s Suzuki orchestras and chamber music program and is presently a member of the Connecticut Youth Symphony as well as the select West Hartford High School Chamber Orchestra I Giovani Solisiti. Hartford Courant, 5 May 2022 Stevie Hansen had her best performance yet and Oregon softball picked up a win in what is presently its final nonconference game of the regular season. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 19 Apr. 2022 Particularly alarming is that 21% of blacks and 17% of New York City voters are presently undecided. John Zogby, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 These ripples in the fabric of spacetime can come from many cosmic sources, but those arising from mergers of stellar-mass black holes are presently easiest for current facilities to detect. Lyndie Chiou, Scientific American, 5 Apr. 2022 The house found a buyer after just two days on the market, and is presently under contract. Bob Goldsborough,, 4 Apr. 2022 Lanning said Greenfield, a third-year sophomore, is not presently on scholarship. oregonlive, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Presently.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for presently


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 the Great
2 : at the present time : now She's presently at home.

More from Merriam-Webster on presently

Nglish: Translation of presently for Spanish Speakers


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