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 pres·tos.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for presto

fast, instantaneous, magic, rapidly, suddenly

Examples from the Web for presto

Contemporary Examples of presto

  • And presto: polio returned—first in Nigeria then across Africa and into Asia, following an established migration pattern.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The CIA's Dangerous Vaccine Stunt

    Kent Sepkowitz

    July 13, 2011

  • Toss a Cinderella- or Stockholm Syndrome-type victim into the mix and presto!

    The Daily Beast logo
    Wives Gone Wild!

    Elizabeth Hayt

    February 26, 2009

Historical Examples of presto

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 plural -tos

music a movement or passage directed to be played very quickly

Word Origin for presto

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

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