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[pres-toh] /ˈprɛs toʊ/
quickly, rapidly, or immediately.
at a rapid tempo (used as a musical direction).
quick or rapid.
executed at a rapid tempo (used as a musical direction).
noun, plural prestos.
Music. a movement or piece in quick tempo.
Origin of presto
1590-1600; < Italian: quick, quickly < Late Latin praestus (adj.) ready, Latin praestō (adv.) at hand Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for presto
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cards are quietly inserted into the slide; the leg is drawn up, and—hey, presto!

    Sharps and Flats John Nevil Maskelyne
  • Suddenly a little whiff of air enters the pile, when, presto!

  • Students should never get the idea that you press down the string as you press a button and—presto—the magic harmonics appear!

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
  • A presto ingeniously represents the quick movements of the stag.

    The Standard Oratorios George P. Upton
  • And suddenly it seemed that the nearby trees began to lift and disappear; and presto!

    Everychild Louis Dodge
  • Then my success is certain; I think you'll say so when I draw the curtain, And, presto!

    The English Spy Bernard Blackmantle
  • presto, he saw a flood of pink rush up her shoulders to her ears.

    A Christmas Garland Max Beerbohm
  • Then presto—the sun moves round, and my window is transformed!

    The Story of Glass Sara Ware Bassett
British Dictionary definitions for presto


adjective, adverb
(music) to be played very fast
immediately, suddenly, or at once (esp in the phrase hey presto)
noun (pl) -tos
(music) a movement or passage directed to be played very quickly
Word Origin
C16: from Italian: fast, from Late Latin praestus (adj) ready to hand, Latin praestō (adv) present
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 presto

1590s, "quickly," used by conjurers, etc., from Italian presto "quick, quickly" in conjuror's patter, from Latin praestus "ready," praesto (adv.) "ready, available," from prae "before" (see pre-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Cf. Latin praesto esse "to be at hand, be ready," source of French prêt "ready." As a musical direction, it is a separate borrowing from Italian, first recorded 1683.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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presto in Technology

A parallel language for shared-memory multiprocessors, built on top of C++ by Bershad et al, U Washington 1987. PRESTO provides classes for threads and spinlocks as well as Mesa-style monitors and condition variables.
( E-mail:
["PRESTO: A Kernel for Parallel Programming Environments", B.N. Bershad et al, U Wash CS TR, Jan 1987].
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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