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[prez-uh ns] /ˈprɛz əns/
the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.
attendance or company:
Your presence is requested.
immediate vicinity; proximity:
in the presence of witnesses.
the military or economic power of a country as reflected abroad by the stationing of its troops, sale of its goods, etc.:
the American military presence in Europe; the Japanese presence in the U.S. consumer market.
Chiefly British. the immediate personal vicinity of a great personage giving audience or reception:
summoned to her presence.
the ability to project a sense of ease, poise, or self-assurance, especially the quality or manner of a person's bearing before an audience:
The speaker had a good deal of stage presence.
personal appearance or bearing, especially of a dignified or imposing kind:
a man of fine presence.
a person, especially of noteworthy appearance or compelling personality:
He is a real presence, even at a private party.
a divine or supernatural spirit felt to be present:
He felt a presence with him in the room.
British Obsolete. presence chamber.
Origin of presence
1300-50; Middle English < Middle French < Latin praesentia. See present1, -ence
Related forms
nonpresence, noun
3. neighborhood. 6. carriage, mien.
1. absence. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for presences
Historical Examples
  • At that moment of time, throughout the house, the presences departed.

    Fortitude Hugh Walpole
  • The fir-trees are like presences on the darkness: each one only a presence.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • All things about her had become intimate, she had known them near and lovely, like presences hovering upon her.

    The Rainbow D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence
  • If ever a house were haunted by past presences, that house is Boscobel.

    A Leisurely Tour in England James John Hissey
  • But again the darkness was quite intolerable, and seemed to have a hideous life of its own which held in it presences of evil.

    Great Possessions Mrs. Wilfrid Ward
  • He hears the voices, he sees the presences of the supernatural.

    Browning and His Century Helen Archibald Clarke
  • It is not right or possible, either in the army or anywhere else, to plunge straight into very august presences.

    A Padre in France George A. Birmingham
  • The sense of nearness to other presences is really inherent in man.

    The Late Tenant Louis Tracy
  • We are never alone, though we are rarely conscious of other presences.

    William Sharp (Fiona Macleod) Elizabeth A. Sharp
  • There are powers, there is the spirit of a place, there are presences that are not to be put by.

    The Trees of Pride G.K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for presences


the state or fact of being present
the immediate proximity of a person or thing
personal appearance or bearing, esp of a dignified nature
an imposing or dignified personality
an invisible spirit felt to be nearby
(electronics) a recording control that boosts mid-range frequencies
(of a recording) a quality that gives the impression that the listener is in the presence of the original source of the sound
(obsolete) assembly or company
(obsolete) short for presence chamber
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin praesentia a being before, from praeesse to be before, from prae before + esse to be
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for presences



mid-14c., "fact of being present," from Old French presence (12c., Modern French présence), from Latin praesentia "a being present," from praesentem (see present (n.)). Meaning "carriage, demeanor, aspect" (especially if impressive) is from 1570s; that of "divine, spiritual, or incorporeal being felt as present" is from 1660s. Presence of mind (1660s) is a loan-translation of French présence d'esprit, Latin praesentia animi.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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