I have a feeling that the word presently should not be used in the way I've been using it, so I'm wondering whether the following sentence is right:

That ancient idea has presently been defined.

  • Did you look up presently in a dictionary? If so, did you find a definition which matches what you intend here?
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 13, 2018 at 19:27
  • Yes I have, but I got confused by the fact that it is also used to denote something that will happen a short moment from now, which is not the context I'd want. When I looked it up earlier, I also came across an article that stated that many grammarians are opposed to using presently in the way I have been using it, which is why I've asked this question. Jul 13, 2018 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


In both British and American English, 'presently' can mean:

(1) In a short time: a bus will arrive presently; the sky grew dark and presently it started to rain.

(2) At the present time: we are presently watching TV; my mother is presently in prison for drunkenness.

Presently (etymonline)
Presently (Oxford)
Presently (Oxford Learners)

Meaning (1) is the majority usage in British English, although meaning (2) has been used since the 14th century, and meaning (2) is the majority usage in American English. Consider also 'momentarily' which means 'for a very brief time' in BrE (a struck match flares momentarily) and 'in a very brief time' in AmE (my husband will be here to pick me up momentarily).

  • Confusing to see a vote-down for what is a perfectly correct answer, with references. Sep 5, 2018 at 17:07
  • I now understand that perfectly good answers to low-quality questions can attract downvotes, and I have cast them myself. Apr 25, 2021 at 11:45

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