Nursing presence emerged in the nursing literature in the 1960s as a coherent and consistent philosophical term based in the existentialism of Gabriel Marcel and Martin Heidegger, and the religious philosophy of Martin Buber. Since the mid-1980s, however, the precision in definition has deteriorated and presence has accrued multiple meanings, resulting in a weakened sense of the concept. After delineating the etymological and philosophical foundations of nursing presence, the concept is defined. The existential nature of nursing presence is explored and arguments for the indispensability of nursing presence are offered to counter the claims of bottom-line thinking. A definition is offered of nursing presence as an intersubjective encounter between a nurse and a patient in which the nurse encounters the patient as a unique human being in a unique situation and chooses to "spend" herself on his behalf.