mid-14c., "fact of being present, state of being in a certain place and not some other," also "space before or around someone or something," from Old French presence (12c., Modern French présence), from Latin praesentia "a being present," from praesentem (see present (adj.)).
From late 14c. as "state of being face to face with a superior or great personage." The meaning "carriage, demeanor, aspect" (especially if impressive) is from 1570s; that of "divine, spiritual, or incorporeal being felt as present" is from 1660s. Presence of mind (1660s) "calm, collected state of mind, with the faculties ready at command," is a loan-translation of French présence d'esprit, Latin praesentia animi.