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 How to pronounce premise (audio) also pri-ˈmīz \
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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The film’s comic-book premise treats black audiences like children. Armond White, National Review, 21 Sep. 2022 Even better, the show’s premise has outlasted its specific plot in the public consciousness. Joshua Alston, Variety, 19 Sep. 2022 The basic premise centers on Rick and Morty’s dangerous quests and various schemes across space and time. Toby Grey, BGR, 16 Sep. 2022 There's no word yet on the exact premise or characters of the new series, though Scott said last year that the pilot and show bible were already being written. Christian Holub,, 15 Sep. 2022 The premise begins by a caller informing a resident there has been suspicious activity on their account. Kate Mccann, Chicago Tribune, 12 Sep. 2022 Per the official premise: If Knives Out was about the murderous ties of flesh and blood, Glass Onion makes a good case for being just as wary of one’s closest friends. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 8 Sep. 2022 Tolkien's embrace of all humanity can be seen in the premise of his beloved fantasy series, says Coren, his biographer. John Blake, CNN, 3 Sep. 2022 Currently, Hallmark has eight movie premieres throughout August and September — and each premise sounds as good as the next. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 3 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The choreography for Yazbeck and Ware, by the tap phenom Michelle Dorrance, almost obliterates any qualms about the song’s psychobabbly premise. Jesse Green, New York Times, 13 Dec. 2021 Despite that bonkers premise, Rapace describes making the film as a strangely beautiful experience, and something of a watershed moment in her career. Tyler Aquilina,, 8 Oct. 2021 Musgraves uses a loose Romeo and Juliet premise to tell one of the oldest stories in country music: the tale of her divorce from fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, who’d inspired Golden Hour. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2021 The Purge series went from nifty home-invasion flick premise to blunt political allegory to perfect metaphor for our rapidly-circling-the-drain nation seemingly overnight. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 24 May 2021 Launched last summer, the audio chatting app ClubHouse has piled up over 10 million users on the (correct) premise that a lot of people had hours to just ... talk. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2021 Along with his co-creator, Brett Goldstein, Bridges teases out the dystopian possibilities of Soulmates’ premise through vignettes that weave together horror, cult fiction, and even explorations of abuse. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, 15 Oct. 2020 The treatment is premised on the idea that plasma from survivors should be rich in the antibodies that have helped them to defeat the virus. Gina Barton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 May 2020 Yet from the outset, FDR’s New Deal excluded key groups, such as agricultural and domestic laborers—sacrificial lambs to Southern demands that any enhancement of labor rights not threaten local relations premised on white supremacy. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, 4 May 2020 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near premise



premised on/upon

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Premise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for premise


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

More from Merriam-Webster on premise

Nglish: Translation of premise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of premise for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about premise


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