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 new measure would likely allow police to conduct warrantless searches and also raises questions about other human rights enshrined in New Zealand law, including the freedom to associate with other people and the right to be presumed innocent. Fox News, "New Zealand could ban some criminals from being near guns, even if they don't own them," 11 Nov. 2019 One of the ways monetary policy is supposed to work is that by manipulating the Fed Funds rate, it is presumed to influence other key interest rates, like long long-term rates and mortgages which ripple through the economy. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "Has the Fed lost its power to influence the economy?," 30 Oct. 2019 The Attorney General, it is presumed, represents the people of the United States, not the President of the United States. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "Can We Stop Pretending Prosecutors Are Impartial Now?," 2 Oct. 2019 But his mission has long been deemed lost and he is presumed to be dead; neither Roy nor anyone else has heard from him in sixteen years. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Ad Astra,” Reviewed: James Gray’s Masterwork of Personal Film in an Alien Setting," 19 Sep. 2019 Republicans have argued that Mueller stepped outside his mandate, when generally people who aren't accused of crimes are presumed innocent. Author: Aaron Blake, Anchorage Daily News, "Five takeaways from Robert Mueller’s testimony," 24 July 2019 When viewers last saw Vivian, she was shot by Kate DiMera (Lauren Koslow) and presumed to be dead by everyone in Salem. Lynette Rice,, "Here's a first look at former One Life to Live star Robin Strasser on Days of Our Lives," 29 Aug. 2019 This would presume sound, unbiased judgement on Mueller’s part. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "All the ways Robert Mueller was trashed by his fellow Republicans," 24 July 2019 Those presumed innocent who are not a threat or a danger to the community should not be in jail before trial, said Braveboy, who took office in January. Washington Post, "Prosecutors in Prince George’s will no longer recommend cash bail for defendants," 15 Sep. 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

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Presume.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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strength of mind

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