Webster 1913 Edition



At present; at this time; now.
The towns and forts you
Sir P. Sidney.
At once; without delay; forthwith; also, less definitely, soon; shortly; before long; after a little while; by and by.
the fig tree withered away.
Matt. xxi. 19.
With actual presence; actually .
His precious body and blood
presently three
Bp. Gardiner.

Webster 1828 Edition



s as z. At present; at this time.
The towns and forts you presently have.
In a short time after; soon after.
Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. Phil.2.
And presently the fig-tree withered away. Matt.21.

Definition 2023




Alternative forms


presently (comparative more presently, superlative most presently)

  1. (now Britain, rare) Immediately, at once; quickly. [from 14thc.]
    • ~1600, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2:
      Polonius: My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.
    • The Bible: Matthew xxi. 19:
      And presently the fig tree withered away.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821, Folio Society, 2006, Vol.1, p.219:
      the butler supposing the Wine had beene so carefully commended unto him for the goodnesse of it, imediately presented some unto the Pope, who whilest he was drinking, his sonne came in and never imagining his bottles had beene toucht, tooke the cup and pledged his father, so that the Pope died presently; and the sonne, after he had long time beene tormented with sicknesse, recovered to another worse fortune.
  2. Before long; soon. [from 15thc.]
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, I.3:
      It [] is the greatest example of lenity in our Saviour, when he desired of God forgiveness unto those, who having one day brought him into the City in triumph, did presently after, act all dishonour upon him, and nothing could be heard but, Crucifige, in their Courts.
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “chapter I”, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      But they had already discovered that he could be bullied, and they had it their own way; and presently Selwyn lay prone upon the nursery floor, impersonating a ladrone while pleasant shivers chased themselves over Drina, whom he was stalking.
    • 1940, Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, Penguin 2010, p.55:
      ‘I shall presently be getting a call to tell me of that.’
  3. At the present time; now; currently. [from 15thc.]
    • Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
      The towns and forts you presently have.
    • 1891, The Welsh Review, No.1 (November 1891). "A Word to the Welsh People." p.1:
      To all of you, therefore, who call Wales your motherland, whether you presently inhabit some other portion of the globe or breathe the air of your cloud-kissed country [].
  4. (obsolete) With actual presence; in actuality. [~1600]
    • Bishop Stephen Gardiner (1483-1555)
      His precious body and blood presently three.

Usage notes

  • Some older usage guides, especially for UK English, object to the sense meaning "now", though most major modern dictionaries do not.