Definition of historic present in English:

historic present


  • [mass noun] The present tense used instead of the past in vivid narrative, especially in titles, such as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and informally in speech, e.g. ‘so I say to him’.

    • ‘In Bell's opinion the historic present in English is an exciting, but unusual, narrative strategy.’
    • ‘This might only be a literary device or literary preference, since use of the historic present vivifies the action.’
    • ‘Of course the historic present may be used with greater knowingness and subtlety.’
    • ‘His best-known technique was use of the historic present, or the eternal present, as a narrative voice; he resolutely avoided the past tense.’
    • ‘It includes historic present, but for the moment no attempt is made to identify instances of this.’


historic present