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 And why is that added to the total number of cases when they are presumed? oregonlive, "Reader questions about coronavirus and more, answered," 25 May 2020 Their boat capsizes and they're presumed dead by their friends and the authorities. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Outer Banks creator has plans for 4 or 5 seasons of the Netflix YA series," 28 Apr. 2020 That is, they are presumed to remain entitled to their fundamental liberties. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Government Bears the Burden of Proof on Coronavirus Restrictions," 25 Apr. 2020 They were initially presumed to be some sort of artifact that arose during image processing. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, "Strange Extragalactic Strands Mystify Astronomers," 16 Apr. 2020 Citra and Rowan were presumed dead; Goddard escaped; thousands died; and Rowan was blamed for the whole disaster. Katie Ward Beim-esche, The Christian Science Monitor, "Neal Shusterman blurs the line between ‘real’ and digital life," 15 Apr. 2020 It is presumed that people who have antibodies — proteins produced to fight viruses and bacteria — for the coronavirus in their blood would have some level of immunity to the virus. Lauren Caruba,, "Christus hospitals roll out antibody testing to identify coronavirus infections in health care workers, patients," 14 Apr. 2020 Against Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone, it was presumed the Bulldogs would have to find their 3-point stroke. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Butler 2010 rewind: Late 3s carry Bulldogs past top-seeded Syracuse," 25 Mar. 2020 Waukesha County Circuit Judge Maria Lazar denied it but did remind the jury the next morning that every defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to remain silent. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Witness against former federal agent in sexual assault trial made documentary about her story," 6 Feb. 2020

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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Presume.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 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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