1. instantaneously, forthwith. Immediately, instantly, directly, presently were once close synonyms, all denoting complete absence of delay or any lapse of time. Immediately and instantly still almost always have that sense and usually mean at once: He got up immediately. She responded instantly to the request. Directly is usually equivalent to soon, in a little while rather than at once: You go ahead, we'll join you directly. Presently changes sense according to the tense of the verb with which it is used. With a present tense verb it usually means now, at the present time: The author presently lives in San Francisco. She is presently working on a new novel. In some contexts, especially those involving a contrast between the present and the near future, presently can mean soon or in a little while: She is at the office now but will be home presently.