1. the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.
  2. attendance or company: Your presence is requested.
  3. immediate vicinity; proximity: in the presence of witnesses.
  4. 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.
  5. Chiefly British. the immediate personal vicinity of a great personage giving audience or reception: summoned to her presence.
  6. 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.
  7. personal appearance or bearing, especially of a dignified or imposing kind: a man of fine presence.
  8. a person, especially of noteworthy appearance or compelling personality: He is a real presence, even at a private party.
  9. a divine or supernatural spirit felt to be present: He felt a presence with him in the room.
  10. British Obsolete. presence chamber.

Origin of presence

1300–50; Middle English < Middle French < Latin praesentia. See present1, -ence
Related formsnon·pres·ence, noun

Synonyms for presence

Antonyms for presence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for presences

Historical Examples of presences

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

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • Of these two presences he was always conscious; they were as living as his own heart.


    Emily Hilda Young

  • We are never alone, though we are rarely conscious of other presences.

  • If ever a house were haunted by past presences, that house is Boscobel.

  • At that moment of time, throughout the house, the Presences departed.


    Hugh Walpole

British Dictionary definitions for presences


  1. the state or fact of being present
  2. the immediate proximity of a person or thing
  3. personal appearance or bearing, esp of a dignified nature
  4. an imposing or dignified personality
  5. an invisible spirit felt to be nearby
  6. electronics a recording control that boosts mid-range frequencies
  7. (of a recording) a quality that gives the impression that the listener is in the presence of the original source of the sound
  8. obsolete assembly or company
  9. obsolete short for presence chamber

Word Origin for presence

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

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