pres·​ent·​ly ˈpre-zᵊnt-lē How to pronounce presently (audio)
archaic : at once
: without undue delay : before long
: at the present time : now
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 Journal said it could presently not be learned whether Apple has partnered with another bank. Chris Morris, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2023 All would share the same tilt rotor-esque basic shape and the folding rotor concept that Bell is presently experimenting with in New Mexico. Eric Tegler, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Homecoming similarly showed her daughter presently absorbing her creative process while visiting her vigorous rehearsal space at only 6 years old. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2023 There are presently 103,327 people on the national transplant waiting list and some 17 people die each day waiting. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023 WeWork, which presently rents more office space than any other company in the United States, filed for bankruptcy this month. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2023 This heavy lift rocket is presently scheduled to make its debut on December 24 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 14 Nov. 2023 PepsiCo is one of several brands on a mission to support HBCUs presently, and their latest initiative aims to help address food insecurity, which is a major issue at these colleges and universities. Elizabeth Ayoola, Essence, 3 Nov. 2023 While only the slippers and loafers are presently displayed on his website, McAteer can make around a dozen styles of footwear, including fisherman’s sandals, a desert boot and casual canvas shoes (an oxford style teased on Instagram is expected to launch in the next six months). Eric Twardzik, Robb Report, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presently.' 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

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near presently

Cite this Entry

“Presently.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pres·​ent·​ly ˈprez-ᵊnt-lē How to pronounce presently (audio)
archaic : at once
: before long : after a while
presently they arrived
: at the present time : now
she is presently working

More from Merriam-Webster on presently

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