Definition of presto in English:


adverb & adjective

  • (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 final presto measures will leave you breathless.’
    • ‘She adds that its opening theme is very sweet, ‘like a love song,’ though the piece ends with presto flourish.’
    • ‘The symphony follows a traditional four-movement scheme (Andante, Scherzo, Adagio, and a presto Finale).’

nounPlural prestos

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

    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘The finale presto becomes almost a topos to the Persichetti aficionado.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Pick items that are sedate rather than fleet-footed prestos and floated pieces at mezza voce rather than full-throttle.’
    • ‘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.’


  • A phrase announcing the successful completion of a trick, or suggesting that something has been done so easily that it seems to be magic.

    ‘just one quick squeeze and presto! A stir fry in seconds’
    • ‘Plug the replacement monitor in, and presto, it works.’
    • ‘You can even remove your blazer after work and presto, you're ready for an evening cocktail or dinner date.’
    • ‘So, presto, she's the richest woman in the world!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fire up your PC, and presto, you've got 24/7 access to every hiccup in the financial markets.’
    • ‘Baylor got Jones to lower his elbow, and presto, he began producing home runs as a right-handed batter.’
    • ‘There, the cook grills your ingredients and presto, you have lunch.’
    • ‘Write whatever name you want to be called and presto.’
    • ‘Finally, he removed the handkerchief with a flourish and presto, no coin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘Because you know you get in debt, you get in trouble, you file for bankruptcy, presto, clean slate.’
    • ‘Rub the dirty old lamp and presto - the genie is at your command!’
    • ‘The ‘expert’ simply works their magic and presto the bank vault is open.’
    • ‘Just a bit of eye shadow and lip gloss, and presto, she was done.’
    • ‘Just come out and describe what you see, and presto, it becomes poetry.’
    • ‘She flaunted her legs at my father, and presto, he put a diamond on her finger.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His friend whipped out his LG mobile phone, tapped a couple of keys, and presto, the melody wafted into the air.’
    • ‘Just five easy steps and, presto the rivers are interlinked.’
    • ‘A document can be dropped directly onto any word processor window which supports drag & drop and presto - the file automatically unzips and loads!’
    • ‘Remove the feet of the socks and, presto - arm warmers!’
    • ‘He argued with you at the prom, and presto, you went after my boyfriend.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She pulled out her keyboard tray and presto… there was a keyboard.’


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