assume

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: to take to or upon oneself : undertake
assume responsibility
b
: to place oneself in
assume a position
2
: seize, usurp
assume control
3
: to pretend to have or be : feign
assumed an air of confidence in spite of her nervousness
4
: to take as granted or true : suppose
I assume he'll be there.
5
: to take over (the debts of another) as one's own
6
: put on, don
Mrs. Fairfax assumed her best black satin gown, her gloves, and her gold watch. Charlotte Brontë
7
a
: to take up or in : receive
b
: 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

Example Sentences

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 Many organizations assume that because some parts of remote work — like interacting with colleagues — can feel harder to do remotely, return-to-office is the solution. Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2022 Many Jews assume that Palestinians are antisemitic, but the people at the Palestine Center were kind and welcoming even though Ezra was the only Jewish person working there. Ezra Beinart, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Nov. 2022 Many visitors assume that such permissiveness carries through to the rest of Thai society. Time, 3 Nov. 2022 Apparently, many assume that a man alone at a beach house must be in want of guests. Marni Jameson, Orlando Sentinel, 21 Oct. 2022 But the truth is they are only partially automated; both their designers and the authorities assume there is a human being paying attention, overseeing the system at all times. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 11 Oct. 2022 Most college football fans and insiders assume these expensive buyouts are due to the exploding media contracts the Big Ten and the SEC are enjoying. Karen Weaver, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2022 Clicking a like or dislike button on a post, many people assume, factors into the formula. Colin Lodewick, Fortune, 20 Sep. 2022 Most assume the Dark Lord is gone, but not Galadriel, who soon comes across that Sauron symbol up North in Forodwaith, where the orcs gathered after Morgoth's defeat and performed dark sorcery. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 2 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assume.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assume. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

assume

verb

as·​sume ə-ˈsüm How to pronounce assume (audio)
assumed; assuming
1
: to take upon oneself
assume control
assumed the presidency
2
: take on sense 3, receive
it assumes greater importance now
3
: to pretend to have or be : put on
immediately assumed a look of innocence
4
: to take as true : suppose
I assumed he knew

Legal Definition

assume

transitive verb

as·​sume
assumed; assuming
1
: to voluntarily take upon oneself
assume a risk
2
: to take over (the debts or obligations of another) as one's own
assume a mortgage

More from Merriam-Webster on assume

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ