pre·​sup·​pose | \ ˌprē-sə-ˈpōz How to pronounce presuppose (audio) \
presupposed; presupposing; presupposes

Definition of presuppose

transitive verb

1 : to suppose beforehand
2 : to require as an antecedent in logic or fact

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Other Words from presuppose

presupposition \ (ˌ)prē-​ˌsə-​pə-​ˈzi-​shən How to pronounce presupposition (audio) \ noun
presuppositional \ (ˌ)prē-​ˌsə-​pə-​ˈzish-​nəl How to pronounce presuppositional (audio) , -​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of presuppose in a Sentence

The rule presupposes a need to restrict student access to the library. the book presupposes its readers will already know something about the subject

Recent Examples on the Web

But notice, both of those descriptions are ones that presuppose there’s a direction of time. Quanta Magazine, "A Defense of the Reality of Time," 16 May 2017 The plan presupposes that the Holy Land’s noxious politics have simply vanished. The Economist, "An underwhelming start to the “ultimate” Israeli-Palestinian deal," 27 June 2019 Willmoore Kendall argued persuasively that civil society, justice, and rights always presuppose the previous formation of government and society. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "Democracy’s Moral Foundations: Recovering Our ‘Constitution in Full’," 20 June 2019 Searching for the truth presupposes that there is something to look for. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Today, Truth Itself Can’t Be Taken for Granted," 21 Aug. 2018 But all this presupposes a kind of bureaucratic enforcement that is incipient at best in 1800. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018 Like so many art market projections, this presupposes continued vigor among the high net worth individuals. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "You Might Actually Be Able to Afford a Picasso," 1 Apr. 2016 But even this presupposes the U.K. agrees to a Northern Irish backstop deal, without which any debate about the future relationship is whistling in the wind—unless the cabinet thinks the EU is bluffing on this, too. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Britain’s Brexit Dilemma: Should It Compromise, or Confront the EU?," 4 July 2018 This question presupposes that sports team owners belong in a pantheon — a temple of the gods. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Ranking the best team owners in Bay Area sports history," 12 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for presuppose

Middle English, from Middle French presupposer, from Medieval Latin praesupponere (perfect indicative praesupposui), from Latin prae- + Medieval Latin supponere to suppose — more at suppose

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Statistics for presuppose

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for presuppose

The first known use of presuppose was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of presuppose

: to be based on the idea that something is true or will happen
: to require or depend on (something) in order to be true or exist

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More from Merriam-Webster on presuppose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for presuppose

Spanish Central: Translation of presuppose

Nglish: Translation of presuppose for Spanish Speakers

Comments on presuppose

What made you want to look up presuppose? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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