1. The state or fact of being present; current existence or occurrence: a student's presence in class; the presence of toxins in the blood.
2. The area immediately surrounding a great personage, especially a sovereign: in the king's presence.
3. A person who is present, especially in an impressive way: She was a presence in our lives.
a. A person's bearing, especially when it commands respectful attention: "He continues to possess the presence, mental as well as physical, of the young man" (Brendan Gill).
b. The quality of self-assurance and effectiveness that permits a performer to achieve a rapport with the audience: stage presence.
5. A supernatural influence felt to be nearby: felt a presence during the séance.
6. The people, especially diplomats or troops, stationed by a government in a foreign country: our diplomatic presence in that nation's capital.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.