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

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for presto

Synonyms: Adverb or adjective

apace, briskly, chop-chop, double-quick, fast, fleetly, full tilt, hastily, hell-for-leather, hot, lickety-split, posthaste, pronto, quick, quickly, rapidly, snappily, soon, speedily, swift, swiftly

Antonyms: Adverb or adjective

slow, slowly

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Examples of presto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb or adjective

An implanted chip can alter part of that code so the server won’t check for a password—and presto! Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Tiny Chinese Microchips Reportedly Found Hidden in Amazon, Apple Servers," 4 Oct. 2018 And extreme contrasts - the fourth movement has rapidly, repeatedly alternating speeds, adagio to presto - were narrowed, giving little shock. Alan Artner,, "In the heat, Moser, Grant Park Orchestra perform a delicate Dvorak," 30 June 2018 And presto: Magically, 31 million barrels of oil disappeared from the spreadsheets. Ed Wallace, star-telegram, "Myths and Numbers," 17 June 2018 Here Helmchen was in his element, finding apposite aural equivalents for each Beethoven marking and achieving special results in the 10th, presto, variation played staccato and light, and the whirlwind No. 23. Alan Artner,, "German pianist Martin Helmchen closes Piano Series with Orchestra Hall recital," 11 June 2018 Just as with pelargonium, snip off a three inch piece at a node, place in water for 2-3 weeks, and presto! Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "5 Of The Easiest Houseplants To Grow From Cuttings," 14 Dec. 2017 Include food in the mix, and presto, The Cincinnati Streetcar Food Tour is born. Monroe Trombly,, "What to do in Cincy when it's freezing outside," 3 Jan. 2018 With additional manpower from other team members, the box was installed in the garden, and presto! Janet Draper, Smithsonian, "How to Create an Insect Habitat in Your Garden," 25 Jan. 2017 Quart-size resealable bag Add ice, and presto: cold pack. Peg Rosen, Good Housekeeping, "10 Items Medical Pros Always Carry in Their Emergency Kits," 11 Oct. 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for presto

The first known use of presto was circa 1599

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English Language Learners Definition of presto

US : suddenly as if by magic
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.

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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).


to take the place or position of

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