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
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 As for taking a gun into an emergency shelter, that too is allowed during a State of Disaster if the operator of the premises authorizes carrying a handgun and the person carrying the handgun abides by the premise operator’s rule. Dallas News, "Granny, get your guns: Disaster Carry for handgun owners," 12 July 2020 The next generation of film-makers has used the same time-loop premise in other ways. The Economist, "Every day the same During the pandemic, time-loop films have become irresistibly apposite," 10 July 2020 The director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, spotlights the melodramatic poignancy of the tale’s clever premise, yet does so all too briefly and glancingly—because of the film’s rigid genre framework. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Old Guard,” Reviewed: Warriors Who Can Never Die, or Free Themselves from Genre Constraints," 9 July 2020 That’s the premise of the film, presumably intended as a franchise kick-off, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "Charlize Theron is a tough and moody superhero in Netflix action drama 'The Old Guard'," 8 July 2020 Upon hearing about the film's premise and Jackson's role in it, a petition was created soon after, demanding that Habit never be distributed across any platform. Ineye Komonibo,, "People Are Petitioning To Block Paris Jackson’s Controversial New Movie With Bella Thorne," 1 July 2020 With some comedies, the laughs start with the title and absurd premise. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "First look: Seth Rogen stars as a brine-preserved time traveler in HBO Max's 'An American Pickle'," 1 July 2020 All the officials also agreed with Sanders' premise that when a vaccine is produced, it should be made freely available to all Americans. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Fauci warns U.S. could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day," 30 June 2020 Police dispatch records showed over 20 units responding to a premise check at that location. oregonlive, "Police tactical, crisis negotiation teams on scene of incident in Sellwood," 28 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Preliminary study of 39 patients found survivor plasma reduced the mortality of COVID-19," 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, "When Blackness Is a Preexisting Condition," 4 May 2020 The argument to remove Trump’s press briefings from the air altogether is gaining momentum, thanks to a Twitter hashtag premised on a new opinion column from Charles Blow in the New York Times. Brianna Provenzano,, "Why Twitter Users Demand That News Networks Stop Airing Trump’s Briefings," 20 Apr. 2020 As with his presidential bid in 2016, Sanders has premised his campaign on supporting and uplifting working-class Americans. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Bernie Sanders releases plan to strengthen unions," 21 Aug. 2019 Crucially, those payouts were premised on there not being a major crash in those world markets. Joe Weisenthal,, "Here’s What’s Happening With Those Korean Structured Notes That Bet Against Market Volatility," 8 May 2020 The pay cabler argues that the legal claims are premised on an old agreement that has been fully performed by the parties and thus terminated. Eriq Gardner, Billboard, "HBO Taking Michael Jackson 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute to Appeals Court," 21 Oct. 2019 Even voters wary of impeachment might be more forgiving of an inquiry focused on wrongdoing in the construction of the border wall and across Trump’s immigration regime than one premised on the Mueller investigation. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Border Wall Is Trump’s High Crime," 29 Aug. 2019 His presidential campaign four years ago was premised on his managerial prowess. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Pandemic stretches Trump image as gutsy decision-maker to the breaking point," 24 Apr. 2020

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

25 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Premise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 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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