Portrait of the Family as a Definition



From Old English sōna (“immediately, at once”), also, Frisian, Saxon, Proto-Indo-European. Archaic: right now. Has come to indicate the near future. Has come to indicate promise, as: it will happen.


1. Within a short period, a) At a time that is not long from now, as: Soon, said the Magic 8 Ball. The church bells ringing meant that another of his friends would be buried soon. Soon, we will all sit down to dinner. Soon after the last time they gave him the money, he came clean. Who knew how soon we would grow old? b) In a quick way, quickly, as: How soon can you help us? After you watch the boy through one-way mirrors, how soon will you understand? After dinner, we play with the Ouija board, but my brother is high and nods off soon, before we spell anything. How soon can you give him more money? I wish you’d told me sooner. It was too soon to know. c) In a short time after something happens, as: The window has been broken, and soon the thief steps in. When the brother is desperate, he says he needs food, and so, as soon as they can, the family gives him money. When the needle is inserted, soon the body tingles like sleep and the brother nods off. How did it get so late so soon?


2. Used to indicate one’s preference in a particular matter, as: The mother and father would sooner do anything than forget. They would all sooner wait for a knock on the door than answer the phone. I’d just as soon forget.


synonyms: any minute now, before long, in a little while, presently.

antonyms: after, afterward, later, never.


Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, winner of the 2015 Vermont Book Award and the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award, as well as support from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Verse Daily, American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and other journals. A graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Montpelier High School. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.