pres·​to | \ ˈpre-(ˌ)stō How to pronounce presto (audio) \

Definition of presto

 (Entry 1 of 3)

used to indicate the sudden appearance or occurrence of something often as if by magic


adverb or adjective

Definition of presto (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : suddenly as if by magic : immediately
2 : at a rapid tempo used as a direction in music


plural prestos

Definition of presto (Entry 3 of 3)

: a presto musical passage or movement

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for presto

Synonyms: Adverb or adjective

Antonyms: Adverb or adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of presto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb or adjective In second gear, his singing V-8 seems to jump tempo, allegro to presto. Patrick Bedard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1991 GMC Syclone vs. Ferrari 348ts," 29 May 2020 And, — presto! change-o! — Kiner-Falefa winds up as the third baseman. Dallas News, "Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s rapid spring training progress makes a strong case for earning a roster spot," 9 Mar. 2020 Simply flash a smile at a little camera and—presto—you're in. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Why I Opt Out of Facial Recognition," 4 Dec. 2019 Step 4: Return to the room that is, presto change-o, now a hall sufficiently decked with all of the festive Christmas decor. Ashley Hoffman, Time, "The Internet Is Getting in the Holiday Spirit Thanks to These Addictive 'Christmas Explosion' Videos," 21 Nov. 2019 Two patties are way too much for me, but a server recently revealed a valuable secret: Order a cheeseburger with lettuce and special sauce, and — presto! — a single version of the hour-wait-worthy burger. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "In 2019, the burgers in these cities are better than ever," 24 Oct. 2019 To the uninitiated, this process may appear a bit like magic—a wave of the hands, a tap of a touch screen and, presto, a rabbit is pulled from a quantum hat. Neil Savage, Scientific American, "Hands-On with Google’s Quantum Computer," 24 Oct. 2019 Someone gets infected, someone gets bitten and presto! Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "North Olmsted’s Tony Gardner gives life to the living dead in ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ with makeup and effects," 17 Oct. 2019 Just pop a K-Cup in, add some water, press the button and presto, coffee! Alicia Kortendick, oregonlive, "Here are the best coffee makers in honor of National Coffee Day (Sept. 29)," 25 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Courtly grace rubbed elbows with earthy peasant humor, and the concluding presto was alive with the ebullience Haydn dished out like no other composer. John Von Rhein,, "Guest conductor Juraj Valcuha holds CSO in firm command," 2 June 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of presto


circa 1599, in the meaning defined above

Adverb or adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1801, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for presto


Italian, quick, quickly, from Latin praestus ready, from praesto adverb, on hand; akin to Latin prae before — more at for

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about presto

Time Traveler for presto

Time Traveler

The first known use of presto was circa 1599

See more words from the same year

Statistics for presto

Cite this Entry

“Presto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for presto

How to pronounce presto (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of presto

US : suddenly as if by magic


adverb or adjective
pres·​to | \ ˈpre-stō How to pronounce presto (audio) \

Kids Definition of presto

: suddenly as if by magic You called and presto, we're here.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on presto

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presto

Spanish Central: Translation of presto

Nglish: Translation of presto for Spanish Speakers

Comments on presto

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!