1. In a short time; soon: She will arrive presently.
2. Usage Problem At this time or period; now: He is presently staying with us.
3. Archaic At once; immediately.
Usage Note: The original use of presently to mean "at the present time, currently" goes back to the late 1300s. This usage seems to have disappeared from the written record in the 1600s, but it probably survived in speech, as it is widely found nowadays in both speech and writing. Perhaps because this sense was not treated in dictionaries until relatively recently, some language critics have argued that this usage is an error and that presently should only be used in the sense of "in a short time, soon," as in the shopkeeper's I will be with you presently. In four surveys from 1965 to 1999, only 47–50 percent of the Usage Panel accepted the "currently" usage in sentences like She is presently the secretary of state. By 2011, 63 percent found this sentence acceptable. So, although many still adhere to this guideline, resistance appears to be waning.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.