Definition of presto in English:


adjective & adverb

  • (especially as a direction) in a quick tempo.

    • ‘On the way to the golf course, my friend incidentally told me that public enemy number one for golfers is none other than the presto tempo.’
    • ‘The symphony follows a traditional four-movement scheme (Andante, Scherzo, Adagio, and a presto Finale).’
    • ‘She adds that its opening theme is very sweet, ‘like a love song,’ though the piece ends with presto flourish.’
    • ‘The final presto measures will leave you breathless.’


  • A movement or passage marked to be performed in a quick tempo.

    • ‘The Finale had a perfect presto which reminded me of Rachmaninoff-jolting, fervent, jagged-no comfort at all from the gloom and dread of the Marche funèbre.’
    • ‘She began to tremble in fear when her heart's steady pace quickened into a fast-paced minuet, her breath's stable rhythm raced into a sixteenth note, and her feet's adagio tempo sped into a presto.’
    • ‘Sitting in stark contrast, the Scherzo follows with its bold chordal character, leading to the finale which accelerates to a presto before drawing to a close.’
    • ‘Pick items that are sedate rather than fleet-footed prestos and floated pieces at mezza voce rather than full-throttle.’
    • ‘At any rate, I put the disk aside after a single hearing and took it out again only after attending a Milwaukee Symphony concert at which Hahn performed the Elgar concerto and, as an encore, a dazzling presto by Bach.’
    • ‘The final Allegro non troppo presto is a suitable conclusion to this fine work that is most certainly one of the most impressive I've heard in recent years.’
    • ‘In reality, these three variations cannot be faster than Variation 1, since the corrente at a presto of metronome 108 is the absolute fastest of all Bach's simple-meter styles.’
    • ‘The finale presto becomes almost a topos to the Persichetti aficionado.’


  • another way of saying hey presto
    • ‘Plug the replacement monitor in, and presto, it works.’
    • ‘When people decide to undertake an initiative, they naively think that all they have to do is go out and collect the requisite number of signatures and then presto you're on the ballot-wrong.’
    • ‘She flaunted her legs at my father, and presto, he put a diamond on her finger.’
    • ‘Take that experience and technology and add a healthy dose of heavy-duty welds, shocks and other goodies and presto - off-roading in comfort and style becomes a reality.’
    • ‘Because you know you get in debt, you get in trouble, you file for bankruptcy, presto, clean slate.’
    • ‘A document can be dropped directly onto any word processor window which supports drag & drop and presto - the file automatically unzips and loads!’
    • ‘Just come out and describe what you see, and presto, it becomes poetry.’
    • ‘Finally, he removed the handkerchief with a flourish and presto, no coin.’
    • ‘His friend whipped out his LG mobile phone, tapped a couple of keys, and presto, the melody wafted into the air.’
    • ‘You can even remove your blazer after work and presto, you're ready for an evening cocktail or dinner date.’
    • ‘Fire up your PC, and presto, you've got 24/7 access to every hiccup in the financial markets.’
    • ‘The ‘expert’ simply works their magic and presto the bank vault is open.’
    • ‘Fortify the phones with wireless Internet access and, presto - you have yourself a mobile Internet device that lends itself to the growing masses of cellular customers.’
    • ‘There, the cook grills your ingredients and presto, you have lunch.’
    • ‘Rub the dirty old lamp and presto - the genie is at your command!’
    • ‘As the economy has improved and defaults have slowed, many decided they didn't need as much in reserve as they did in 2003, and presto, their earnings per share would rise a few cents.’
    • ‘Remove the feet of the socks and, presto - arm warmers!’
    • ‘Just a bit of eye shadow and lip gloss, and presto, she was done.’
    • ‘Throw in some Beatles hits, a couple of Wings successes, some new stuff, string a story around it, and presto - a movie hit with a strong soundtrack tie-in!’
    • ‘Write whatever name you want to be called and presto.’
    • ‘He argued with you at the prom, and presto, you went after my boyfriend.’
    • ‘She gets the gig on Desperate Housewives, the hottest new series that has skyrocketed to the top of the Nielsen ratings, and - presto - now her reputation transcends to prime-time soap opera.’
    • ‘She pulled out her keyboard tray and presto… there was a keyboard.’
    • ‘Just five easy steps and, presto the rivers are interlinked.’
    • ‘So, presto, she's the richest woman in the world!’
    • ‘All you have to do is steal the Declaration of Independence, unroll it on a kitchen table, apply a little fresh-squeezed lemon juice, heat with a handy hair dryer, and presto, letters and numbers appear.’
    • ‘Baylor got Jones to lower his elbow, and presto, he began producing home runs as a right-handed batter.’


Italian, ‘quick, quickly’, from late Latin praestus ‘ready’, from Latin praesto ‘at hand’.