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There are two quite distinct meanings of "presently". Different people use one or other of the meanings consistently.

If I say, or am told, that something will be done "presently", I understand that it cannot be done immediately, but will be done in a reasonable time (with no sense of urgency); I do not expect it to be done immediately. Dictionaries I have looked at distinguish between these two meanings.

I started this topic with distinct one-word definitions, which have been condensed into one; I don't want to change it on my opinion only, but perhaps others will agree that the two meanings are distinct. —This comment was unsigned.

  • Be bold. If you know something is wrong - correct it. SemperBlotto 21:50, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Definition 3?[edit]

My understanding has always been that using "presently" to mean "now" or "currently" is incorrect. Is there some way of marking that definition as... discouraged? - 21:25, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

The 1909 edition of the OED, though it:
  1. said that "presently" had the meaning "now" since the 15th century,
  2. said was spoken in most English dialects at that time, and
  3. provided a 1901 std. English newspaper citation,
also said it was "archaic in literary English. This last point seems to be the source of the deprecation of the sense in some usage guides, though not as much in actual usage. So, if you are trying to imitate 18th and 19th century literary English, its use would not be appropriate. You could respect the opinions of these guides and save paper, pixels, graphite, lead, ink, or keystrokes by using "now". DCDuring TALK 22:42, 13 December 2008 (UTC)