presume

verb
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

Another owl was discovered dead near its burrow, and a third disappeared that year and was presumed killed. David Streitfeld, New York Times, "As Google Feeds Cats, Owl Lovers Cry Foul," 26 May 2018 Courts are not supposed to craft policy, and the executive branch is presumed to have more expertise on these issues. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "As Supreme Court hears travel ban, questions of presidential authority also on docket," 25 Apr. 2018 It was presumed humiliating to the boys and inappropriate hovering by the moms. Kate Stone Lombardi, Good Housekeeping, "Studies Show Boys Who Are Close to Their Mothers Do Better, Physically and Psychologically," 30 Apr. 2019 It was presumed lost after the war until it was spotted in 2015 working in the Admiralty Ship Yard in Saint Petersburg. Tom Fowlks, Popular Mechanics, "The Floating Crane That Went From Tending Nazi U-Boats To Fixing the Panama Canal," 1 Aug. 2018 Thousands more Mexicans are missing, their bodies presumed to be in clandestine graves. Amy Guthrie, The Seattle Times, "No ‘financial ceiling’ in search for missing in Mexico," 24 Mar. 2019 Researchers also found the remains of some organic material, presumed to be leatherwork that kept the blade fixed in place. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Man With a Knife for an Arm," 14 Aug. 2018 Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America, beat Joe Crowley, a 20-year congressman presumed to be a future candidate for Speaker of the House. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "2018 Midterm Primaries: New York, Utah, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Colorado," 27 June 2018 In Azerbaijan in 2017, police conducted a violent campaign, arresting and torturing transgender women and about 80 men presumed to be gay or bisexual. Tanya Mohn, New York Times, "The Shifting Global Terrain of L.G.B.T.Q. Rights," 21 June 2018

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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Statistics for presume

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for presume

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

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More Definitions for presume

presume

verb

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

presume

verb
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.

presume

transitive verb
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with presume

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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