as·​sume ə-ˈsüm How to pronounce assume (audio)
assumed; assuming

transitive verb

: to take to or upon oneself : undertake
assume responsibility
: to place oneself in
assume a position
: seize, usurp
assume control
: to pretend to have or be : feign
assumed an air of confidence in spite of her nervousness
: to take as granted or true : suppose
I assume he'll be there.
: to take over (the debts of another) as one's own
: put on, don
Mrs. Fairfax assumed her best black satin gown, her gloves, and her gold watch.Charlotte Brontë
: to take up or in : receive
: to take into partnership, employment, or use
assumability noun
assumable adjective
assumably adverb

Did you know?

The Difference Between Assume and Presume

Assume and presume both mean "to take something for granted" or "to take something as true," but the words differ in the degree of confidence the person assuming or presuming has. Presume is used when someone is making an informed guess based on reasonable evidence. Assume is used when the guess is based on little or no evidence.

Presume functions a little differently in the legal catchphrase "presumed innocent until proven guilty." That sense of presume is separately defined as "to suppose to be true without proof." It is based on the fact that legal systems grant a defendant the presumption of innocence, thereby placing the burden of proof on the prosecution.

Choose the Right Synonym for assume

assume, affect, pretend, simulate, feign, counterfeit, sham mean to put on a false or deceptive appearance.

assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive.

assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients

affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling.

affected an interest in art

pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance.

pretended that nothing had happened

simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something.

cosmetics that simulate a suntan

feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate.

feigned sickness

counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words.

an actor counterfeiting drunkenness

sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible.

shammed a most unconvincing limp

Examples of assume in a Sentence

I assumed he was coming, so I was surprised when he didn't show up. She assumed from his expression that he was confused. We'll be arriving around noon. That's assuming that our flight is on time. The king assumed the throne when he was very young. Under certain conditions, the chemical will assume the appearance of ice.
Recent Examples on the Web Adam Rymer, a 15-year Chipotle veteran, will assume the role of CFO beginning Jan. 1, 2025. Bysheryl Estrada, Fortune, 10 July 2024 Released within a month of Election Day in 2016, many assumed the scandal would force Trump to step aside. Philip Elliott, TIME, 10 July 2024 The shifts in this and other polls have generally been within the margin of error, but there have been enough polls showing a small shift against Biden to logically assume there has been a shift. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 9 July 2024 But assuming either role—of the inviter or the invited—with grace isn’t so straightforward. Chloe Malle, Vogue, 9 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for assume 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assume.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin assumere, from ad- + sumere to take — more at consume

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7a

Time Traveler
The first known use of assume was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near assume

Cite this Entry

“Assume.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


as·​sume ə-ˈsüm How to pronounce assume (audio)
assumed; assuming
: to take upon oneself
assume control
assumed the presidency
: take on sense 3, receive
it assumes greater importance now
: to pretend to have or be : put on
immediately assumed a look of innocence
: to take as true : suppose
I assumed he knew

Legal Definition


transitive verb
assumed; assuming
: to voluntarily take upon oneself
assume a risk
: to take over (the debts or obligations of another) as one's own
assume a mortgage

More from Merriam-Webster on assume

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