presume

verb

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

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
presumer noun

Did you know?

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 All coverage of the impending 2024 presidential election presumes that something is going to change. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 7 June 2024 Until the pandemic, oncology was presumed to require in-person tests and procedures that would minimize the ability to employ telemedicine. NPR, 6 June 2024 On a routine basis, they are presumed to be carrying land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine missiles, with a crew of up to 85 sailors. Michael Wilner, Miami Herald, 6 June 2024 Scholars presume Ehrenstein must have seen a work of Kafka’s in print, which prompted him to ask Kafka to contribute to Die Gefährten—the Expressionist literary journal Ehrenstein was editing, per the auction house. Sonja Anderson, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for presume 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presume.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near presume

Cite this Entry

“Presume.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/presume. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

presume

verb
pre·​sume pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio)
presumed; presuming
1
: to undertake without permission or good reason : dare
presume to question the authority of a superior
2
: to expect or assume with confidence : feel sure
I presume you'll fly if you do go
3
: to suppose to be true without proof
presume a person innocent until proved guilty
presumable
-ˈzü-mə-bəl
adjective

Legal Definition

presume

transitive verb
pre·​sume pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio)
presumed; presuming
: to suppose to be true without proof or before inquiry : accept as a presumption
must presume the defendant is innocent

More from Merriam-Webster on presume

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