pre·​sump·​tion | \pri-ˈzəm(p)-shən \

Definition of presumption 

1 : presumptuous attitude or conduct : audacity

2a : an attitude or belief dictated by probability : assumption

b : the ground, reason, or evidence lending probability to a belief

3 : a legal inference as to the existence or truth of a fact not certainly known that is drawn from the known or proved existence of some other fact

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Examples of presumption in a Sentence

The trial was unfair from the beginning because there was no presumption of innocence. a defendant's right to a presumption of innocence

Recent Examples on the Web

And yet somehow, that protection — that standard of fairness, that benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty — has escaped my grasp. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Attorney General Curtis Hill: Full transcript of his response to groping allegations," 9 July 2018 In this country, there’s a presumption of innocence before guilt. Manya Brachear Pashman,, "A Muslim charity joins the campaign against mass incarceration," 14 June 2018 Bodney, the attorney for The Republic and other media outlets, said the letter — and the letter's blurring of lines between public records and evidence — challenged precedent about the presumption of public access to public records in Arizona. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Maricopa County attorney seeks to usurp police control of records, video," 20 May 2018 It was initiated in defiance of a longstanding Justice Department presumption against investigating campaigns in an election year. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Elizabeth Price Foley, WSJ, "Mueller’s Fruit of the Poisonous Tree," 22 June 2018 The miniature explosives were to be attached to the bats with twine, the presumption being that the bats would gnaw through it and leave the bombs behind. Lucy Cooke, ajc, "US military is interested in bats as possible defenders against bioweapons," 3 July 2018 Gone is the presumption of innocence — during the penalty phase of a capital murder trial, the defendants have already been found guilty. Rafael Olmeda,, "Defense lawyers seek mercy for three convicted in Broward deputy's murder," 29 June 2018 Twitter Facebook − + ShadrachSmith • a day ago Bail balances the state's interest for the defendant to appear in court with the presumption of innocence before conviction. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dulé Hill on Bail Reform: "There Has to Be a More Equitable Process" (Exclusive Video)," 18 June 2018 Lischewski deserves the presumption of innocence in court, but his efforts to dodge responsibility will be fascinating to watch. Michael Hiltzik,, "The Bumble Bee tuna price-fixing case could point to the future of white-collar prosecutions," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'presumption.' 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 presumption

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for presumption

Middle English presumpcioun, from Anglo-French presumption, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin praesumption-, praesumptio presumptuous attitude, from Latin, assumption, from praesumere

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Statistics for presumption

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for presumption

The first known use of presumption was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for presumption



English Language Learners Definition of presumption

: a belief that something is true even though it has not been proved

law : an act of accepting that something is true until it is proved not true

: willingness to do something without the right or permission to do it


pre·​sump·​tion | \pri-ˈzəmp-shən \

Kids Definition of presumption

1 : behavior or attitude going beyond what is proper

2 : a strong reason for believing something to be so

3 : something believed to be so but not proved


pre·​sump·​tion | \pri-ˈzəmp-shən \

Legal Definition of presumption 

: an inference as to the existence of a fact not certainly known that the law requires to be drawn from the known or proven existence of some other fact

conclusive presumption

: a presumption that the law does not allow to be rebutted

called also irrebuttable presumption

— compare rebuttable presumption in this entry

mandatory presumption

: a presumption that a jury is required by law to make upon proof of a given fact — compare permissive presumption in this entry

permissive presumption

: an inference or presumption that a jury is allowed but not required to make from a given set of facts

called also permissive inference

— compare mandatory presumption in this entry

presumption of fact

: a presumption founded on a previous experience or on general knowledge of a connection between a known fact and one inferred from it

presumption of innocence

: a rebuttable presumption in the favor of the defendant in a criminal action imposing on the prosecution the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

presumption of intent

: a permissive presumption that if a criminal defendant committed an act it was his or her intent to commit it

presumption of law

: a presumption (as of the innocence of a criminal defendant) founded on a rule or policy of law regardless of fact

presumption of survivorship

: the presumption in the absence of direct evidence that of two or more persons dying in a common disaster (as a fire) one was the last to die because of youth, strength, or other reasons rendering survivorship likely

rebuttable presumption

: a presumption that may be rebutted by evidence to the contrary — compare conclusive presumption in this entry

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Comments on presumption

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playful or foolish behavior

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