AskDefine | Define present

Dictionary Definition

present adj
1 temporal sense; intermediate between past and future; now existing or happening or in consideration; "the present leader"; "articles for present use"; "the present topic"; "the present system"; "present observations" [syn: present(a)] [ant: future, past]
2 spatial sense; being or existing in a specified place; "the murderer is present in this room"; "present at the wedding"; "present at the creation" [ant: absent]


1 the period of time that is happening now; any continuous stretch of time including the moment of speech; "that is enough for the present"; "he lives in the present with no thought of tomorrow" [syn: nowadays]
2 something presented as a gift; "his tie was a present from his wife"
3 a verb tense that expresses actions or states at the time of speaking [syn: present tense]


1 show or demonstrate something to an interested audience; "She shows her dogs frequently"; "We will demo the new software in Washington" [syn: show, demo, exhibit, demonstrate]
2 bring forward and present to the mind; "We presented the arguments to him"; "We cannot represent this knowledge to our formal reason" [syn: represent, lay out]
3 perform (a play), especially on a stage; "we are going to stage `Othello'" [syn: stage, represent]
4 hand over formally [syn: submit]
5 introduce; "This poses an interesting question" [syn: pose]
6 give, especially as a reward; "bestow honors and prizes at graduation" [syn: award]
7 give as a present; make a gift of; "What will you give her for her birthday?" [syn: give, gift]
8 deliver (a speech, oration, or idea); "The commencement speaker presented a forceful speech that impressed the students" [syn: deliver]
9 cause to come to know personally; "permit me to acquaint you with my son"; "introduce the new neighbors to the community" [syn: introduce, acquaint]
10 represent in a painting, drawing, sculpture, or verbally; "The father is portrayed as a good-looking man in this painting" [syn: portray]
11 present somebody with something, usually to accuse or criticize; "We confronted him with the evidence"; "He was faced with all the evidence and could no longer deny his actions"; "An enormous dilemma faces us" [syn: confront, face]
12 formally present a debutante, a representative of a country, etc.
13 recognize with a gesture prescribed by a miltary regulation; assume a prescribed position; "When the officers show up, the soldiers have to salute" [syn: salute]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From < < praesent-, praesens present participle of praeesse "to be present" < prae- "pre-" + esse "to be".


  • , /ˈprɛzənt/, /"prEz@nt/
  • Hyphenation: pres·ent


  1. Relating to now, for the time being; current.
    The present manager has been here longer than the last one.
  2. Located in the immediate vicinity.
    Is there a doctor present?
pertaining to the current time
in the immediate vicinity


  1. The current moment or period of time.
  2. The present tense.
current time
present tense

Etymology 2

From presenten < presenter < presentare "to show" < praesent-, praesens present participle of praeesse "to be in front of".


  1. A gift, now especially one given for birthdays or Christmas.


  • , /prɪˈzɛnt/, /prI"zEnt/
  • ,


  1. To reveal, to show..
    The theater is proud to present the Fearless Fliers.
  2. transitive law To offer to a court or legislature for consideration.
  3. To award a trophy, gift, etc, to.
Derived terms
in law



  • /preˈsent/


  1. gift, present


Extensive Definition

The present is the time that is perceived directly, not as a recollection or a speculation. It is often considered as a hyperplane in space-time, often called now, but it may also be viewed as a duration (see specious present).
When comparing time in places separated by great distances, the notion of present becomes unclear. For example, we visually perceive stars to be where they were when the light now reaching our eyes was emitted, because even though light travels at approximately 3 x 108 m/s it takes many years to reach us from distant sources.
When used in the term "Before Present" (BP), as used in expressing ages or dates determined by radiocarbon dating, "Present" is defined as AD 1950.
Modern physics has not yet been able to explain what we normally understand by 'now'. Furthermore, there is no demonstrable reason why time should move in any one particular direction. This has led to the conclusion that the idea of a present is illusory and does not reflect the true nature of reality. The notion of "now" may be better understood as an unrealistic concept that has evolved in humans and animals to give us an understanding of reality useful only to the extent necessary for survival.

The present according to Special Relativity

It follows from Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity that there is no such thing as absolute simultaneity. Therefore, if we define "present" to be the collection of events that are simultaneous with a given event, then "present" takes different meanings for different observers. Instead, with "present" defined as the events perceived directly, not as a recollection or a speculation, for a given observer "present" takes the form of the observer's past light cone. The light cone of a given event is objectively defined as the collection of events in causal relationship to that event, but each event has a different associated light cone. One has to conclude that in relativistic models of physics there is no place for "the present" as an absolute element of reality. Einstein phrased this as: "People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion".

A philosophical problem

"The present" also raises another difficult question: "How is it that all sentient beings experience "now" at the same time?" There is no logical reason why this should be the case and no easy answer to the question. For example, say somebody named John is experiencing a great deal of pain. John's friend Fred takes pity on John because of John's situation. The problem is: is it logical for Fred to feel bad for John at present, when there is no way to prove that both John and Fred experience the same temporal existence? (See also Solipsism and Philosophy of mind.)

The present in Buddhism

Buddhism and many of its associated philosophies emphasize the importance of living in the present moment — being fully aware of what is happening, and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This does not mean that they encourage hedonism, but merely that through constantly focusing on one's current position in space and time (rather than future considerations, or past reminiscence) will aid one in relieving suffering. A number of meditative techniques aim to help the practicer live in the present moment.

Christianity and eternity

God is viewed as being outside of time and from the divine perspective past, present and future are actualised in the now of eternity. Saint Thomas Aquinas used the image of a watchman, representing God, standing on a height looking down on a valley where past present and future, represented by the individuals and their actions strung out along its length, are all visible simultaneously to God.

Eternal now

Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now (1997), argues that only the present moment exists. Tolle argues that time is an illusion, and that the past exists only as a memory stored in the mind, while the future is imagined, a projection of the mind.



  • Greene, Brian, (2004). The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41288-3
  • Stepath, Katrin, (2006). Gegenwartskonzepte., Würzburg. ISBN 3-8260-3292-6
present in Afrikaans: Hede
present in Tosk Albanian: Gegenwart
present in Czech: Přítomnost
present in Danish: Nutiden
present in German: Gegenwart
present in Estonian: Olevik
present in Spanish: Presente (tiempo)
present in Basque: Orain
present in French: Aujourd'hui
present in Korean: 현재
present in Italian: Oggi
present in Hebrew: הווה
present in Dutch: Heden
present in Japanese: 現在
present in Norwegian: I dag
present in Portuguese: Hoje (dia)
present in Quechua: Kunan pacha
present in Russian: Настоящее
present in Slovak: Prítomnosť
present in Slovenian: Sedanjost
present in Finnish: Nykyhetki
present in Swedish: Nutid
present in Yiddish: היינט
present in Contenese: 今日
present in Chinese: 今天

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christmas present, accessible, accommodate, accord, acquaint, actual, adduce, adjacent, administer, advance, affect, afford, affront, aid, aim, aim at, allege, allot, allow, allowance, alms, announce, aorist, array, articulate, as is, at hand, at present, attendant, available, award, baksheesh, be a gas, be a hit, being, bend, benevolence, bestow, bestow on, betoken, bill, birthday present, bomb, bonus, boon, bounty, box, brandish, brave, breast, breathe, bring before, bring forth, bring forward, bring in, bring into view, bring on, bring out, bring to bear, bring to notice, bring up, cadeau, challenge, chime, chorus, chronology, close, closest, clothe, come out with, communicate, compliment, conceive, confer, confront, confront with, contemporaneous, contemporary, continuity, contribute, contribution, convey, couch, couch in terms, current, dangle, dare, deal, deal out, defy, deliver, demonstrate, deploy, determine, develop, devote, direct, directionize, disclose, dish out, dispense, display, distribute, divulge, do the honors, dole, dole out, donate, donation, dramatize, duration, durative, duree, embody, embody in words, emcee, emit, enact, encounter, endow, endowment, enunciate, envisage, evidence, evince, exhibit, existent, existing, expose to view, express, extant, extend, face, face with, fail, fairing, favor, feature, file, fill, fill up, find, fix, fix on, flaunt, fling off, flop, flourish, fork out, formularize, formulate, frame, freeload, fresh, front, fund, furnish, future, future perfect, gift, gift with, give, give a knockdown, give an introduction, give away, give expression, give expression to, give freely, give out, give out with, give sign, give token, give tongue, give utterance, give voice, give words to, grant, gratuity, hand, hand out, hand over, hand-out, handsel, headline, heap, help to, here and now, highlight, historical present, hold forth, hold on, hold out, illuminate, immanent, immediate, impart, imperfect, in being, in effect, in existence, in force, in view, incarnate, indicate, indwelling, inherent, instant, introduce, invest, issue, just now, keep, largess, largesse, lastingness, latest, lavish, lay before, let have, let out, level at, lip, living, maintain, make a hit, make acquainted, make available, make clear, make known, make plain, make provision for, manifest, marshal, materialize, mean, meet, meet squarely, melodramatize, mete, mete out, modern, mount, nearby, nearest, new, newfashioned, now, nowadays, oblation, offer, offering, on board, on deck, on foot, on hand, open, open a show, our times, out with, parade, paragraph, pass out, past, past perfect, peace offering, perfect, perform, period, phonate, phrase, place before, plead, pluperfect, point, point at, point tense, point to, pour, pour forth, pourboire, prefer, premiere, prepare, present perfect, present to, present-age, present-day, present-time, presentation, presently, preterit, prevalent, preview, produce, proffer, progressive tense, pronounce, provide, provide for, proximate, psychological time, put, put forth, put forward, put in words, put it to, put on, put to choice, put to vote, put up, quaint, rain, raise, rally, record, recruit, register, remaining, render, replenish, represent, reveal, rhetorize, right now, roll out, running, say, scenarize, serve, set, set before, set forth, set out, set the stage, shell out, show, show forth, shower, sight on, slip, snow, sound, space, space-time, sponge, spotlight, stage, star, state, stem, stock, store, style, submit, subsidize, subsistent, subsisting, succeed, supply, support, tell, tender, tense, term, that be, that is, the future, the nonce, the past, the present, the time being, theatricalize, these days, throw off, tide, time, timebinding, tip, today, token, topical, train, train upon, tribute, trot out, try out, turn, turn over, turn upon, under the sun, unfold, up-to-date, up-to-the-minute, utter, verbalize, vocalize, voice, vouchsafe, wave, while, whisper, white elephant, within call, within reach, within sight, word, yield
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