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 That cannot be done at the peril of people who are presently alive. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Bargaining with China Today to Save the World Tomorrow," 30 Apr. 2021 The border crisis is presently the biggest area in which voters already view him as a failure — for now. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "100 days: Migrant surge and big spending steal show in Biden's opening act," 29 Apr. 2021 The system is presently available for export and is already in service with India’s air force and navy. Paul Iddon, Forbes, "These Israeli Weapons Systems Can Go A Long Way On The Modern Battlefield," 28 Apr. 2021 With thunderstorms in the forecast, if the finale can’t be played then Friday’s second game, which is presently a nonconference game, will become a Pac-12 game. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "No. 6 Oregon softball erupts for 6-run third in 7-4 win over Stanford," 24 Apr. 2021 Alden is presently the leading bidder for Tribune Publishing’s titles, including the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. Washington Post, "The hedge fund set to buy Tribune Publishing mismanaged employees’ pensions, federal investigators found," 23 Apr. 2021 The former president still wields outsize influence in the GOP, which is presently the minority party in Washington but is within striking distance of making a comeback in 2022 - if leaders can hold their ranks together. Karoun Demirjian, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s grip on GOP looms as support falters for independent probe of Capitol riot," 18 Apr. 2021 Weinstein, who is presently behind bars in a New York State prison near Buffalo, has maintained his innocence. Victoria Bekiempis, Vulture, "Harvey Weinstein Appeals Rape and Sexual Assault Conviction," 5 Apr. 2021 Amari enjoys his meals and is presently on a low calorie food in order to drop a couple of extra pounds. The Arizona Republic, "Austin and more pets up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 2 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for presently

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for presently

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Presently.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on presently

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presently

Nglish: Translation of presently for Spanish Speakers

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