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 biggest issue is a ceasefire, the premise for enduring peace. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Stunt with the Taliban Was Not About Negotiating Peace," 10 Sep. 2019 The city will allow dogs, cats and rabbits to be purchased directly from breeders and/or the premises where the animals are born. San Diego Union-Tribune, "National City officially enacts ban on retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits," 10 Sep. 2019 Wednesday, he was thrown off the premises after an altercation with the GM. Albert Breer,, "Just How Far Can Antonio Brown Push His Limits? Very Far, Apparently," 6 Sep. 2019 Consider this: As many as 100 crew members crowd the premises. Joanne Kaufman, New York Times, "So Your House Wants to Be a Star," 6 Sep. 2019 Security guards closed the gates and kicked news reporters off the premises. Dylan Mcguinness, Houston Chronicle, "Police arrest mother of 5-year-old Houston girl found dead in closet," 3 Sep. 2019 The premise raises many questions: What was the real nature of their relationship? Thomas Balcerski, Smithsonian, "The 175-Year History of Speculating About President James Buchanan’s Bachelorhood," 28 Aug. 2019 Screenrant pointed out that the Stranger Things' creators originally wanted to work the same premise into their own show. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "This Proves “Stranger Things” Was Seriously Inspired by Horror Movie “IT”," 23 Aug. 2019 Only those with reservations were allowed onto the premises. Mitchell Kuga, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Stay at the Taco Bell Hotel in Palm Springs," 21 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His campaign was premised on the notion that a large, moderate plurality in the country felt abandoned by the Republican and Democratic shift toward angrier, more partisan politics and more extreme positions. Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "Former Starbucks CEO Schultz says he won’t run for president," 6 Sep. 2019 President Donald Trump's move to loosen methane emission standards is premised on the notion that the oil and gas industry produces relatively little of the pollutant. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Who are the biggest U.S. methane emitters?," 30 Aug. 2019 The Oklahoma decision is premised on that state’s specific public nuisance statute, and a North Dakota judge recently denied a similar claim in that state. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "J&J’s $527 million dollar fine in opioid case doesn’t bode well for Purdue Pharma," 29 Aug. 2019 The other strategy – disengagement – is premised on the assumption that belief systems may never change. The Economist, "Confessions of an Islamic State fighter," 16 Aug. 2019 Snapchat’s original platform was premised on sending disappearing messages to people, but increasingly the app is finding new ways to get users to store their snaps and share them with the world. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartzy, "Snap’s latest bid to sell their failed spectacles: make it fashion," 13 Aug. 2019 There is a lesson here for those who promise massive new government programs such as Medicare-for-all, premised on unlikely or, as in the case of Berniecare, preposterous promises about their affordability. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: The fate of the Cadillac tax should be a wake-up call," 28 July 2019 Eric Hjalmarson, who is in his second year as head coach, was away from the camp premises when the incident took place. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Parent upset Safford football coach not fired after camp incident," 17 July 2019 The two big tax benefits for low-income parents — the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit — are both premised on work. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Parenting can be a full-time job. Activists want the tax code to treat it that way.," 15 July 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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Learn More about premise

Dictionary Entries near premise





premised on/upon



Statistics for premise

Last Updated

14 Sep 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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Comments on premise

What made you want to look up premise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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