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

All of the show's characters presumed that Hopper was dead. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Happens to Hopper at the End of Stranger Things Season 3?," 5 July 2019 Barusseau, who is from France, was born in 1909 and is presumed dead. David Tarrant, Dallas News, "Dallas Catholic diocese blasted over announcement of allegations against another former priest," 5 July 2019 When the NBA Draft begins Thursday night (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET), all eyes will be on presumed No. 1 pick Zion Williamson—and @wojespn. Jacob Feldman,, "2019 NBA Draft Media Preview: What to Expect from TV Broadcasts, Twitter and More," 20 June 2019 Carman came under scrutiny in 2016 when his fishing boat sank with him and his mother, Linda Carman, on board about 100 miles offshore from Point Judith, R.I. Linda Carman hasn’t been found and is presumed dead. Travis Andersen,, "Nathan Carman lawsuit in R.I. slated for trial in August," 18 June 2019 Best opted for a 30-day suspension without pay, sidestepping Police Department policy and language in the city’s contract with SPOG that presumes officers will be fired for dishonesty in their official duties. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "Sources: Seattle police chief feared she could be overturned on a technicality if she fired officer who lied," 13 June 2019 The totals reflect how much a state presumes the non-custodial parent should pay but judges do have the discretion to award different amounts. Leada Gore |,, "What is typical child support payment in Alabama?," 13 June 2019 Google on Wednesday revealed a key feature of the Pixel 4 months ahead of its presumed release following a leak by YouTube creator Unbox Therapy just 24 hours earlier. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Google shows off the Pixel 4's dual camera after leaks surface," 12 June 2019 That includes an expedition that went missing in the Indian Himalayas in late May. The eight members of a team led by a veteran British mountaineer are presumed dead in an avalanche. Fox News, "Famed Indian climber nearly died on peak where team was lost," 6 June 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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Statistics for presume

Last Updated

11 Jul 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



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.


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

Comments on presume

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to complain fretfully

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