pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəm(p)-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: presumptuous attitude or conduct : audacity
: an attitude or belief dictated by probability : assumption
: the ground, reason, or evidence lending probability to a belief
: 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

Example Sentences

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 But the makers of the new dinosaur movie 65 are not so clever, given their presumption that audiences old enough to remember that classic, 30-year-old slogan won’t be insulted by the borrowing. Armond White, National Review, 17 Mar. 2023 And Biden and his party must turn these poll results—this universal presumption about which party is better with the economy—around. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 27 Feb. 2023 Putin’s serene presumption was that, within a week, his forces would overrun Kyiv, arrest Zelensky and his advisers, and install a cast of collaborators. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2023 The working presumption in the real estate industry is that a seller does have to disclose if a murder occurred on the property, even if that murder occurred on a previous owner’s watch. Dallas News, 30 Oct. 2022 Given the presumption of secrecy that cloaks grand jury proceedings and the potential dangers of publicizing the proceedings, the various requests and pleadings were placed under seal by the court until a hearing could be held on the requests. Lee O. Sanderlin, Baltimore Sun, 24 Feb. 2023 But since Arbery’s murderers weren’t police, their convictions say more about the problem with qualified immunity and the presumption of innocence and benefit of doubt police receive. Anthony Conwright, The New Republic, 3 Feb. 2023 When the co-founder of the foundation, billionaire philanthropist Bill Ackman, rose to offer some remarks, something surprising happened: Ackman spoke to the audience about the presumption of innocence, and David Sabatini., 28 Jan. 2023 IMAX Enhanced hasn’t caught on as a buzzword or presumption of quality in the way Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision seems to, but adding some exclusive access to properly calibrated A/V experiences is one way to nudge things in that direction. Richard Lawler, The Verge, 4 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presumption.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near presumption

Cite this Entry

“Presumption.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəm(p)-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: presumptuous attitude or behavior
: strong reason for believing something to be so in spite of lack of proof
: something believed but not proved

Legal Definition


pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəmp-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on presumption

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