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
2 : postulate
3 : to base on certain assumptions

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Examples of premise in a Sentence


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


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

The new Anchorage ordinance says businesses must be freestanding, licensed retail marijuana stores with approved on-site consumption endorsements before edibles can be eaten on their premises. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Assembly legalizes on-site consumption of marijuana edibles at retail shops," 19 June 2019 As if the fates chose to demonstrate its premise, stocks plunged shortly after the book was published. WSJ, "The Best Financial Advice I Ever Got," 16 June 2019 Conservatives can adhere to the same consistent view of the role of government but reach a different conclusion, depending on their starting premise. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Caldara: Colorado is ready for a reasonable abortion debate," 14 June 2019 Karlgaard supports his premise by turning to the real science of how and when the brain develops. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Making the case for late bloomers in a world that values early success," 13 June 2019 The game has 1930s-style graphics, and its premise is to fight to pay back a debt to the devil. Madeline Purdue, USA TODAY, "Elon Musk says new driving game 'Beach Buggy Racing 2' coming to Tesla screens," 7 June 2019 The storyline immediately became a fan favorite thanks to its simple premise: What if this hero became corrupted by her power and turned into a villain? Time, "Review: Late Night Is a Pitch-Perfect Workplace Comedy," 7 June 2019 The series will stick with its general premise of predicting how technology will affect everything in our future, but there are various plots to investigate in this oh-so-short preview. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "Miley Cyrus Is Confirmed as One of the Stars in 'Black Mirror' Season 5," 15 May 2019 Given its eerily familiar premise, the film has drawn comparisons to both Netflix's Bird Box and last year’s A Quiet Place, however, Lebbon’s book precedes John Krasinski’s production. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Kiernan Shipka and her "CAOS" Costar Miranda Otto Teamed Up for New Netflix Thriller "The Silence"," 8 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But Warren’s advisers say her campaign was always premised on the long game. Jess Bidgood,, "As Elizabeth Warren makes gains in the primary, Trumpworld takes notice," 18 June 2019 All of this, however, is premised on Facebook having access to the payment data of its users. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "How Facebook's Libra Will Turbo-Charge Its Ad Empire," 18 June 2019 This piston strategy is premised on the two models being equivalent. Quanta Magazine, "In Quantum Games, There’s No Way to Play the Odds," 1 Apr. 2019 Lawyers for the oil companies have sought to dismiss the suits by San Francisco and Oakland, arguing among other things that they were premised on an overreaching interpretation of public-nuisance law. Miguel Bustillo, WSJ, "Judge Demands More Information from Oil Companies in Climate-Change Suits," 24 May 2018 These aren’t huge percentages, but enough to disrupt Democratic strategies that have been premised for years on overwhelming support among African-Americans. James Freeman, WSJ, "Art of the Deal: 2020," 16 Nov. 2018 Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Jennifer Hansler, CNN, "Sen. Tammy Duckworth expresses support for protesters in wake of new NFL National Anthem policy," 26 May 2018 And speaking of the FISA court, isn't your whole investigation premised on a fake dossier paid for by Hillary, created by a man who hates Donald Trump and used two con a FISA court judge? Fox News, "Judge Jeanine: I want the Mueller probe to go on and on," 12 Aug. 2018 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Democracy is premised on the idea that political power is only legitimate when exercised with the consent of the governed. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Wisconsin power grab is part of a bigger Republican attack on democracy," 6 Dec. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near premise





premised on/upon



Statistics for premise

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for premise

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

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More Definitions for premise



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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