presence of mind

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pres·ence of mind

The ability to think and act calmly and efficiently, especially in an emergency situation.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Charles, my dear cousin," cried Julia, rising and meeting him with both hands extended, "I owe my life to your bravery and presence of mind."
"Very true, my love," said Miss Emmerson, excessively gratified to hear her niece praise the youth; "it is the surest test of courage when men behave with presence of mind in novel situations.
She was the first who summoned presence of mind enough to give a plain answer to Turlington's plain question.
There was a kind of fascination in meeting his steady gaze so suddenly, which took from the other the presence of mind to withdraw his eyes, and forced him, as it were, to meet his look.
'Well, says I, 'my dear, I'll ask you no more under your hand; but as you are to hear the most unexpected and surprising thing that perhaps ever befell any family in the world, I beg you to promise me you will receive it with composure and a presence of mind suitable to a man of sense.'
I lose my presence of mind. At the critical moment before the jump is taken, I am foolish enough to seize the bridle, and suddenly check the pony.
The case seemed wholly desperate and deplorable; and this magnificent palace would have infallibly been burnt down to the ground, if, by a presence of mind unusual to me, I had not suddenly thought of an expedient.
Cecilia instantly recovered her presence of mind. She sat down at the writing-table, and made out a list of eatable productions in the animal and vegetable world, in which every other word was underlined two or three times over.
Giles was expatiating upon his presence of mind, when the doctor entered; Mr.
"Don't take all." whispered her neighbor, a young lady of great presence of mind.
Harris and I were included in all the descriptions; how we were coming along; how Hans Gross shouted; how we looked up startled; how we saw Peter coming like a cannon-shot; how judiciously we got out of the way, and let him come; and with what presence of mind we picked him up and brushed him off and set him on a rock when the performance was over.
But the youth did not lose his presence of mind, and drawing his bow he pierced the beast with his arrow right through the skull.
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