Definition of historic present in English:

historic present


  • 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.”.

    ‘It includes historic present, but for the moment no attempt is made to identify instances of this.’
    • ‘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.’


historic present

/hiˌstôrik ˈprezənt/ /hɪˌstɔrɪk ˈprɛzənt/