prem·ise | \ ˈpre-məs \
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 \
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

Yes, the plot is contrived, and implausible, and full of masks and identity thefts, but the film aggressively owns its premise., "Mission Impossible: Fallout Is As Wild & Fun As Henry Cavill's Mustache," 12 July 2018 Whannell also mines his premise for topical commentary: Stem turning Grey into a killing machine is only a satirical exaggeration of how the Internet can bring out the worst in people. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Upgrade is so derivative, it’s original," 14 June 2018 The book, Hamptons Bohemia: Two Centuries of Artists and Writers on the Beach could not be more accurate in its premise. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "High Society Photographer Bert Morgan Chronicled the Hamptons' Smart Set Before Everything Changed," 13 June 2018 The dramedy about three young women working their way up at a popular magazine dazzled viewers with its glitzy premise, topical narratives, and nuanced characters. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "10 TV, Music, Movie, and Book Releases We're So Excited About This Week," 10 June 2018 The reporter was later instructed to leave the premises after interacting with a U.S. planning delegation that is staying at the resort. David Nakamura, Washington Post, "Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un at resort hotel off coast of Singapore, White House says," 5 June 2018 By virtue of their names and, um, their entire premise—lining women up in a kind of sequin-coated cattle call—it‘s fair to say that beauty pageants haven‘t historically been the most feminist of endeavors. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Can the Miss America Pageant Be Saved?," 5 June 2018 Mulvaney was no fan of the agency, having repeatedly attacked its very premise during his three terms as a Tea Party Republican in Congress. Devin Leonard,, "Mick Mulvaney Is Having a Blast Running the Agency He Detests," 25 May 2018 Using drugs at a racetrack can get someone automatically thrown off its premises. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Track workers confront their addictions through a little-known program at Churchill Downs," 27 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Haley pushed back in Thursday's letter, arguing that the administration had created a strong economy that would lift people out of poverty and that Alston's report was premised on misleading statistics. Jeff Stein,, "Haley: 'It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America'," 22 June 2018 Haley pushed back in Thursday’s letter, arguing that the administration had created a strong economy that would lift people out of poverty and that Alston’s report was premised on misleading statistics. Jeff Stein,, "‘Ridiculous’ for UN to examine poverty in America, says top Trump administration official," 22 June 2018 Haley pushed back in Thursday's letter, arguing that the administration had created a strong economy that would lift people out of poverty and that Alston's report was premised on misleading statistics. Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post, "The Health 202: Meet the man in charge of the HHS agency overseeing migrant children," 22 June 2018 Historically, employers used past accomplishments as the sole metric for compensation decisions, premised on the idea that the past is prologue. Rebecca Greenfield,, "Your raise is now based on next year's performance," 9 July 2018 The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. Jay Willis, GQ, "Mitch McConnell's Stolen Supreme Court Seat Is Already Fucking Up America," 26 June 2018 His campaign is premised on the notion that a military background and the image of a political fresh face will resonate strongly enough in the rest of the state to offset Vukmir’s strength in southeast Wisconsin. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP senate primary in Wisconsin already reflects north-south divide within party," 13 July 2018 But a majority of Supreme Court justices rejected the idea that the ban was premised on religious discrimination. Sara Reardon, Scientific American, "Top U.S. Court Upholds Trump Travel Ban: Student Visas Already in Decline," 26 June 2018 But every tool the international community has to prevent war, grow economies and safeguard the vulnerable is premised on structures, commitments, reliability and patience. Heather Hurlburt, Daily Intelligencer, "The Winners and Losers of President Trump’s Meeting With Kim Jong-un," 12 June 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


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


see premise entry 1

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Learn More about premise

Dictionary Entries near premise





premised on/upon



Statistics for premise

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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

premises : a building and the area of land that it is on

: a statement or idea that is accepted as being true and that is used as the basis of an argument


prem·ise | \ ˈpre-məs \

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).


the setting in which something occurs

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