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 If caught in an active shooter situation, people should first try to escape from the premises and leave their belongings behind. Kulsoom Khan,, "Niles police give public tips to survive an active shooter event," 16 Sep. 2019 The premise was based on the 1999 novel of the same name about a mysterious event that causes nearly everyone on the planet to black out for two minutes and seventeen seconds on Oct. 6, 2009. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Netflix's The I-Land tries (and fails) to be the next Lost — just like these 11 other shows," 14 Sep. 2019 Hyundai’s sporty compact Veloster has been boldly refreshed with that premise top-of-mind. Sue Mead, Houston Chronicle, "Hyundai Veloster: Sporty compact curated with emotion, imagination," 13 Sep. 2019 The man at the center of the assault claims continues to work as a Labour Party staff member, although no longer from the Parliament premises., "WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was facing a difficult test of her leadership Wednesday after her party president resigned over the party’s handling of a sexual assault complaint.," 12 Sep. 2019 Although this premise would seem to support the use of low-cost suppliers like Huawei, there are obvious risks to owning insecure equipment, including the potential cost of replacement and of mitigating security issues. Geoffrey Starks, The Mercury News, "Opinion: The security necessity for U.S. innovation in 5G networks," 12 Sep. 2019 Consequences for violating the rules could include removal from city premises, reprimand or censure. Lilly Nguyen, Daily Pilot, "Resolution before Laguna Beach council looks to restore civility at meetings," 14 Sep. 2019 The company also maintains that e-commerce and cloud computing inherently emit less carbon than personal shopping trips and on-premises data centers. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Nearly 1,000 Amazon employees plan a walkout to protest climate change," 9 Sep. 2019 Some such measures listed in the law include censorship, arbitrary arrest and detention, entry and search of premises, unlimited control over property, and compulsory labor. Joshua Wong, Quartz, "How to fight for democracy when the government keeps throwing you in jail," 3 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Today, any deal to withdraw U.S. troops will be premised on recognition that the Taliban have the right to a role in ruling Afghanistan. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Stunt with the Taliban Was Not About Negotiating Peace," 10 Sep. 2019 The former vice president’s whole campaign is premised on this sort of historical misremembering. Ted Scheinman, The New Republic, "The Historical Amnesia of Joe Biden’s Candidacy," 5 Sep. 2019 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

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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Statistics for premise

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for premise

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

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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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