promise

noun
prom·​ise | \ ˈprä-məs How to pronounce promise (audio) \

Definition of promise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified
b : a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act
2 : reason to expect something little promise of relief especially : ground for expectation of success, improvement, or excellence shows considerable promise
3 : something that is promised

promise

verb
promised; promising

Definition of promise (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pledge to do, bring about, or provide promise aid
2 archaic : warrant, assure
3 chiefly dialectal : betroth
4 : to suggest beforehand : give promise of dark clouds promise rain

intransitive verb

1 : to make a promise
2 : to give ground for expectation : be imminent

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Other Words from promise

Verb

promisee \ ˌprä-​mə-​ˈsē How to pronounce promisee (audio) \ noun
promisor \ ˌprä-​mə-​ˈsȯr How to pronounce promisor (audio) \ or less commonly promiser \ ˈprä-​mə-​sər How to pronounce promiser (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for promise

Synonyms: Noun

oath, pledge, troth, vow, word

Synonyms: Verb

covenant, pledge, swear, vow

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Examples of promise in a Sentence

Noun

She gave me her promise. She never made a promise that she didn't intend to keep. There is little promise of relief in the forecast. They were attracted by the promise of success. a sunny morning that gives every promise of a fine day There is a promise of better days ahead.

Verb

Promise me that you won't tell anyone. I can't promise you that I'll be able to go, but I'll do my best. The governor promised that the prisoners would receive a fair trial. She promised to announce the results tomorrow. International organizations have promised aid. I promise to be careful. You always promise, but you never do what you say you will. “I won't tell anyone.” “Promise?” “Yes, I promise.” Those gray skies promise rain.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The rally was a fitting place for Lightfoot, who campaigned on a promise to reduce the violent crime. Javonte Anderson, chicagotribune.com, "Hundreds gather for annual St. Sabina rally against violence," 14 June 2019 After the landlords reneged on a promise to extend the lease through January 2020, according to the club operators, Mezzanine was set to permanently shutter Oct. 10. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "SF Supervisor steps in to save SoMa music venue," 13 June 2019 Trump campaigned on a promise to make broad use of the material-support statute. Jenna Krajeski, The New Yorker, "A Victim of Terrorism Faces Deportation for Helping Terrorists," 11 June 2019 Earlier this year, before the release of new data showing more than 16,500 people living in their vehicles, the authority put out a request to providers across the county to help them make good on that promise. Sonja Sharp, latimes.com, "16,000 people in L.A. now live in cars, vans and RVs. But safe parking remains limited," 10 June 2019 On Sunday in Cincinnati, Berhalter and his players delivered on that promise. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Second Straight Dud Gives USMNT Cause for Concern Entering Gold Cup," 9 June 2019 The Swiss investor with Polish roots arrived in Prague in the early 1990s and became one of the top property developers in the Czech capital, then full of promise and excitement. The Economist, "Disgruntled investors are losing patience with central Europe," 8 June 2019 But for a variety of reasons, the Vikings couldn’t build on the early promise. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Kirk Cousins knows he needs to deliver after disappointing initial season with Vikings," 7 June 2019 Lamont had campaigned on a promise of tolls only on tractor-trailer trucks but pivoted in February and said tolling all vehicles was necessary to raise enough revenue to fix Connecticut’s aging infrastructure. Russell Blair, courant.com, "Capitol Week in Review: Tolls vote still looming as General Assembly session ends," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The system also promises to reduce the cost of paperwork. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Big Ocean Cargo Carriers Join Blockchain Initiative," 28 May 2019 Musk also promised that once the ball was rolling on Model 3, production would increase exponentially. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Tesla," 29 Dec. 2018 Jason, who promised his clients gorgeous French doors that opened up into the backyard, realized too late that the doors opened inward instead of outward. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Best Room Wins Episode Two Steps Up to the Challenge of Contemporary," 9 May 2019 As promised, Ariana Grande’s newest song and music video landed late on Thursday night in a flurry of hot pink and Kirakira-ready sparkle, and let’s just say the Internet was ready for it. Vogue, "Ariana Grande Drops “7 Rings,” a Tongue-In-Cheek Ode to Friendship and Materialism, and Twitter Goes Crazy," 18 Jan. 2019 That 2016 federal court case ended with DeVry agreeing to a $100 million settlement for tens of thousands of students damaged by misleading ads promising employment and high-earning potential. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The State of American Trade Schools," 13 Mar. 2019 The European Union moved Tuesday to recalibrate ties with China, promising to address growing threats to trade, economic growth and security posed by Beijing’s global assertiveness. Laurence Norman, WSJ, "EU, in Major Shift, Moves to Confront China’s Growing Assertiveness," 13 Mar. 2019 Each year, a new crop of children’s books hits the shelves, promising to enrich the lives of both parents and the kids that read them. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 17 best kids’ books about design and cities," 12 Dec. 2018 There’s also Supply, funded through a series of six-digit Kickstarter campaigns, promising to bring back the perfect single-blade safety razor. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "The absurd quest to make the “best” razor," 11 Dec. 2018

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for promise

Noun

Middle English promis, from Latin promissum, from neuter of promissus, past participle of promittere to send forth, promise, from pro- forth + mittere to send

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Statistics for promise

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for promise

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

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More Definitions for promise

promise

noun

English Language Learners Definition of promise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future
: an indication of future success or improvement
: a reason to expect that something will happen in the future

promise

verb

English Language Learners Definition of promise (Entry 2 of 2)

: to tell someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future
somewhat formal : to make (something) seem likely : to show signs of (something that is likely or expected to happen)

promise

noun
prom·​ise | \ ˈprä-məs How to pronounce promise (audio) \

Kids Definition of promise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a statement by a person that he or she will do or not do something I made a promise to pay within a month.
2 : a cause or ground for hope These plans give promise of success.

promise

verb
promised; promising

Kids Definition of promise (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to state that something will or will not be done I promise to clean my room this afternoon.
2 : to give reason to expect Dark clouds promise rain.

promise

noun
prom·​ise

Legal Definition of promise

: a declaration or manifestation especially in a contract of an intention to act or refrain from acting in a specified way that gives the party to whom it is made a right to expect its fulfillment
aleatory promise
: a promise (as to compensate an insured individual for future loss) whose fulfillment is dependent on a fortuitous or uncertain event
collateral promise
: a promise usually to pay the debt of another that is ancillary to an original promise, is not made for the benefit of the party making it, and must be in writing to be enforceable
false promise
: a promise that is made with no intention of carrying it out and especially with intent to deceive or defraud
gratuitous promise
: a promise that is made without consideration and is usually unenforceable

called also naked promise

— compare nudum pactum

Note: A gratuitous promise may be enforceable under promissory estoppel.

illusory promise
: a purported promise that does not actually bind the party making it to a particular performance an illusory promise depending solely on the will of the supposed promisor
implied promise
: a promise that is considered to exist despite the lack of an agreement or express terms to that effect and the breach of which may be recognized as a cause of action claimed a breach of an implied promise that he would not be terminated at will — see also promise implied in fact and promise implied in law in this entry
naked promise
: gratuitous promise in this entry
original promise
: a promise (as in a suretyship) usually to pay the debt of another that is made primarily for the benefit of the party making it and need not be in writing to be enforceable — compare collateral promise in this entry, main purpose rule
promise implied in fact
: an implied promise that exists by inference from specific facts, circumstances, or acts of the parties
promise implied in law
: an implied promise that exists on the basis of a legally enforceable duty and not on the basis of words or conduct which are promissory in form or support an inference of a promise a promise implied in law that one will be compensated for services rendered and accepted

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More from Merriam-Webster on promise

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with promise

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for promise

Spanish Central: Translation of promise

Nglish: Translation of promise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of promise for Arabic Speakers

Comments on promise

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