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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
  • And then, presto, he's about in our midst giving an imitation of a wet hen with a brood of ducks.
  • Cooler air rushes in from the ocean to take its place and presto, a wind is born.
  • Collect enough tickets and, presto, you have a degree.
  • When this slippage happens abruptly, presto, you've got an earthquake.
  • Plug into a car battery, and hey presto, the gas bubbles off and can be easily collected.
  • Hook it up to a voltage and, presto, out comes light.
  • The game was to set these as low as possible and, hey presto, to beat them.
  • Now of course those income streams have shrivelled and hey presto, up to our eyeballs in debt.
  • presto, the bars of her window fall out into her hands.
  • He steals the letters, changes a word here and a line there, sends them off and presto: a marriage is on the rocks.
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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