pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Definition of presume

transitive verb

1 : to undertake without leave or clear justification : dare
2 : to expect or assume especially with confidence
3 : to suppose to be true without proof presumed innocent until proved guilty
4 : to take for granted : imply

intransitive verb

1 : to act or proceed presumptuously or on a presumption
2 : to go beyond what is right or proper

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Other Words from presume

presumedly \ pri-​ˈzü-​məd-​lē How to pronounce presumedly (audio) , -​ˈzümd-​lē How to pronounce presumedly (audio) \ adverb
presumer noun

The Difference Between Assume and Presume

Assume and presume both mean "to take something for granted" or "to take something as true," but the words differ in the degree of confidence the person assuming or presuming has. Presume is used when someone is making an informed guess based on reasonable evidence. Assume is used when the guess is based on little or no evidence.

Presume functions a little differently in the legal catchphrase "presumed innocent until proven guilty." That sense of presume is separately defined as "to suppose to be true without proof." It is based on the fact that legal systems grant a defendant the presumption of innocence, thereby placing the burden of proof on the prosecution.

Examples of presume in a Sentence

“Is she still at work?” “I presume so, since she's not home.” The court must presume innocence until there is proof of guilt.
Recent Examples on the Web The franchise has yet to offer any public statement regarding its head coach, whose contract expires Jan. 14 and who has been presumed to be a lame duck for at least a month. Mike Finger,, "Dallas Cowboys’ coaching saga veering into absurdity," 4 Jan. 2020 Unlike prisons, jails house those arrested, presumed innocent and still awaiting trial or serving short sentences. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "After Rikers Island Closes, What Will Jail Look Like?," 18 Dec. 2019 Nevaeh had been missing and presumed dead since August. Essence, "Body Of Missing 5-Year-Old Nevaeh Adams Found In Landfill," 23 Oct. 2019 Combining the observed outcomes, the NTP concluded that PFOA and PFOS are presumed to be an immune hazard to human beings. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "WTF Are Forever Chemicals?," 27 Sep. 2019 Now working with a bank of Indus genomes presumed to be 12 individuals strong, the researchers compared their genetic signatures to DNA from other ancient civilizations in Eurasia as well as modern populations. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Genome of nearly 5000-year-old woman links modern Indians to ancient civilization," 5 Sep. 2019 Hunters hit the area hard over several years and that population is presumed eradicated, according to the DNR. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Every report of feral pigs is of interest': DNR wants hunters to look out for this invasive species," 22 Nov. 2019 Giving points to the competition Riders defected to Lyft and other ride-sharing services that were presumed dead until Uber’s public misdeeds. Jimmy Keown, Quartz, "New safety features aren’t enough to undo Uber’s toxic bro-tastic culture," 4 Nov. 2019 Kelsey Starling disappeared and is presumed dead after 10 p.m. July 4 boat crash on Smith Lake. Carol Robinson |,, "Alabama suffers 25 boating deaths in 2019, the deadliest year on state waters since 1998," 17 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'presume.' 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 presume

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for presume

Middle English, from Late Latin & Anglo-French; Anglo-French presumer, from Late Latin praesumere to dare, from Latin, to anticipate, assume, from prae- + sumere to take — more at consume

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Time Traveler for presume

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for presume

Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Presume.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for presume


How to pronounce presume (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of presume

: to think that (something) is true without knowing that it is true
: to accept legally or officially that something is true until it is proved not true
formal : to do (something) that you do not have the right or permission to do


pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Kids Definition of presume

1 : to undertake without permission or good reason : dare They … did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals.— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
2 : to suppose to be true without proof A person is presumed innocent until proved guilty.
pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Legal Definition of presume

: to suppose to be true without proof or before inquiry : accept as a presumption must presume the defendant is innocent

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More from Merriam-Webster on presume

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presume

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with presume

Spanish Central: Translation of presume

Nglish: Translation of presume for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of presume for Arabic Speakers

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