prem·​ise | \ ˈpre-məs How to pronounce premise (audio) \
variants: or less commonly premiss

Definition of premise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference specifically : either of the first two propositions of a syllogism from which the conclusion is drawn
b : something assumed or taken for granted : presupposition
2 premises also premisses plural : matters previously stated specifically : the preliminary and explanatory part of a deed or of a bill in equity
3 premises also premisses plural [from its being identified in the premises of the deed]
a : a tract of land with the buildings thereon
b : a building or part of a building usually with its appurtenances (such as grounds)


pre·​mise | \ ˈpre-məs also pri-ˈmīz How to pronounce premise (audio) \
premised; premising

Definition of premise (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to set forth beforehand as an introduction or a postulate
b : to offer as a premise in an argument
3 : to base on certain assumptions

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Examples of premise in a Sentence

Noun Called behavioral ecology, it starts from the premise that social and environmental forces select for various behaviors that optimize people's fitness in a given environment. Different environment, different behaviors—and different human "natures." — Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 29 June 2009 Although the Voting Rights Act served, in some measure, to formalize the notion of racial representation, its consequences undermined its premise—that a transparency of interests existed between the representative and the represented. — Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New Yorker, 24 Oct. 1994 Thirty years ago the modesty of the general expectation was still consistent with the original American premise of self-government. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, November 1992 They were asked to leave the premises. The company leases part of the premises to smaller businesses. The premises were searched by the police. He disagreed with her premise. the basic premises of the argument a theory based on the simple premise that what goes up must come down Verb Niebuhr … adhered to a form of liberalism more premised on a realistic assessment of human nature than Rauschenbusch's naïve progressivism was. — Alan Wolfe, New York Times Book Review, 21 Oct. 2007 Fears of a nuclear holocaust were fueled by President Nixon's "madman" theory of diplomacy. The madman theory was premised on the assumption that if the Soviets thought that Nixon was crazy enough to drop the bomb, they would leave us alone. — Will Manley, Booklist, 1 & 15 June 2006 let us premise certain things, such as every person's need for love, before beginning our line of reasoning
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Released in 2019, Kind Words has a simple premise: Players send out anonymous requests (virtual letters) to vent, ask questions or talk about a problem. Elise Favis, Washington Post, "Trump’s rhetoric agitated two game designers. They responded with Kind Words.," 23 Jan. 2020 If customers downloaded the software instead of getting it on a CD that was produced in Puerto Rico, would the premise of the deal — that it was based on CD manufacturing — be undermined? Paul Kiel, ProPublica, "The IRS Decided to Get Tough Against Microsoft. Microsoft Got Tougher.," 22 Jan. 2020 The Delhi Police reportedly broke into the campus, attacked students and vandalised the premises, and allegedly fired bullets and tear gas, injuring several students. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "In photos: India refuses to stay quiet in the face of repression," 8 Jan. 2020 The directorial debut of Emerald Fennell, who recently wrote the second season of Killing Eve, has a provocative premise. David Sims, The Atlantic, "25 Movies to Look Forward to in 2020," 7 Jan. 2020 Okay, so a new, dangerous conflict in the Middle East, launched by the U.S. government on a murky premise, with 'razor thin' evidence. TheWeek, "Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah are pretty sure Trump doesn't know what he's doing in Iran, the Middle East," 7 Jan. 2020 The premise: the players who would fare the best in the current era of college football. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's all-decade team: Who were the Wolverines' best of the 2010s?," 29 Dec. 2019 Because this is a movie that has a premise around trying to maintain silence, transcribing what happens in the trailer took all of zero seconds. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "Our first look at the 'A Quiet Place' sequel is here," 18 Dec. 2019 Working from what might be considered the opposite premise, the Oriental Institute has on the occasion of its centennial given itself a coy new moniker: The OI. Lori Waxman,, "The year in art was explosive, scene-changing and expanded far beyond the walls of galleries. Here’s a look at some things that mattered in 2019," 11 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But Trump premised his economic policy on wiping out the trade gap. Josh Boak And Hope Yen, USA TODAY, "FACT CHECK: Looking at Trump's claims in his State of Union address," 5 Feb. 2020 These fears were premised on a belief that women were by nature ingenuous and could be easily tricked into engaging in harmful behaviors. Clement Knox, Time, "When U.S. Laws Punished Men for 'Seduction,' Women Were the Ones Who Got Judged," 4 Feb. 2020 But Trump premised his economic policy on wiping out the trade gap. Josh Boakand Hope Yen,, "AP Fact Check: Trump’s claims in his State of Union address," 4 Feb. 2020 The show was always selling a soft-lit fantasy, a romanticized idea of what government is and can be; it was premised on the bold notion that bureaucracy could be made interesting. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Desperately Seeking C.J.," 25 Sep. 2019 Setting up a date on the department premises could be seen as an issue, regardless of whether it was premised on an actual promise of getting her out of jail, McCullough said. Rachel Dissell, cleveland, "‘It wasn’t right’: Woman says East Cleveland police sergeant released her from jail in return for a date," 8 Dec. 2019 These digital platforms are premised on the uninhibited collection of personal data from users, the operation of compelling platforms that arbitrarily shut out competitive threats, and the development of AI that curates our social feeds. Wired, "Banning Micro-Targeted Political Ads Won’t End the Practice," 22 Nov. 2019 The impeachment inquiry is premised on a whistleblower report and subsequently uncovered evidence indicating that Trump conditioned foreign aid to Ukraine on an investigation into his political rival for personal gain. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Republicans seethe while suggesting impeachment-inquiry witnesses," 9 Nov. 2019 This contact was premised on the idea that the character and behavior of the lower classes should be formed through bourgeois norms in order to prevent the need for penal reform. Andre M. Archie, National Review, "The Power of Bourgeois Norms," 7 Nov. 2019

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

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First Known Use of premise


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for premise

Noun and Verb

in sense 1, from Middle English premisse, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin praemissa, from Latin, feminine of praemissus, past participle of praemittere to place ahead, from prae- pre- + mittere to send; in other senses, from Middle English premisses, from Medieval Latin praemissa, from Latin, neuter plural of praemissus

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Time Traveler for premise

Time Traveler

The first known use of premise was in the 14th century

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Statistics for premise

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Premise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for premise


How to pronounce premise (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of premise

: a building and the area of land that it is on
formal : a statement or idea that is accepted as being true and that is used as the basis of an argument


prem·​ise | \ ˈpre-məs How to pronounce premise (audio) \

Kids Definition of premise

1 : a statement or idea taken to be true and on which an argument or reasoning may be based
2 premises plural : a piece of land with the buildings on it

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