promise

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

Essential Meaning of promise

1 : a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future I'll be here early tomorrow, and that's a promise. [=I promise that I'll be here early tomorrow] Do I have your promise that you'll support me? [=do you promise to support me?] See More ExamplesShe gave me her promise. I don't believe his promise of further tax cuts. = I don't believe his promise to cut taxes further. He made a promise to help her. = He made a promise that he would help her. [=he promised to help her] He kept/fulfilled his promise. [=he did what he said he would do] He broke his promise. = He went back on his promise. [=he didn't do what he said he would do] She never made a promise that she didn't intend to keep.Hide
2 : an indication of future success or improvement a young artist who shows (a lot of) promise [=who seems talented and likely to do good work in the future] Her early novels were full of promise. [=were very promising] The new drug holds/has promise. [=the new drug could be effective or successful]
3 : a reason to expect that something will happen in the future There is little promise of relief in the forecast. They were attracted by the promise of success. See More Examplesa sunny morning that gives every promise of a fine day There is a promise of better days ahead.Hide

Full 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

Other Words from promise

Verb

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

Synonyms for promise

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 One need look no further than the under-performing Google Stadia, which, despite early claims that the cloud gaming experience would be seamless, never delivered on its promise. Asaf Ezra, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 James Kvaal, undersecretary of the Department of Education, said those who worked for a decade in public service should be able to rely on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but the system hadn't delivered on its promise. Chris Quintana, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2022 Audi has delivered on its promise to gift Wheel of Fortune contestant Charlene Rubush with a new car, following her controversial loss on the game show in December. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, 20 Jan. 2022 Audi came through with their promise and gifted Rubush a brand-new car. Kelly Wynne, PEOPLE.com, 20 Jan. 2022 The debate highlighted the continued divisions as Democrats attempt to follow through on their long-running promise to rein in the tech industry through updates to antitrust law. Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2022 For all its promise, LFP did not appear to have a bright future. Gregory Barber, Wired, 18 Jan. 2022 After Jimmy broke his promise to John (Kevin Costner) — to not rodeo ever again — the ranch hand eventually returned to Yellowstone. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 18 Jan. 2022 Musk had been steadily walking back his promise for a 2021 launch, telling investors in July that ramping production in the new Texas plant would be difficult. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 14 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Therein lies the secret sauce to party knits, which promise stay-at-home levels of comfort tailored to environments outside of the home. Amanda Randone, refinery29.com, 19 Dec. 2021 This approach seems likely to enrich those who promise to provide us with all that data. John J. Ross, WSJ, 10 Dec. 2021 Many migrants also leave thousands of dollars on deposit with currency transfer shops to send to smugglers who promise to get them to the border. New York Times, 13 Nov. 2021 Many migrants also leave thousands of dollars on deposit with currency transfer shops to send to smugglers who promise to get them to the border. Elian Peltier, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2021 Hospitals didn’t get the relief the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines seemed to promise at the beginning of 2021, as vaccine hesitancy mixed with nationwide outbreaks squeezed already tired workforces. Rachel Cohrs, STAT, 30 Dec. 2021 As the disaster continues, there will be more holes to plug, and more money spent on funding the people who promise to reimagine care as a consumer good. Molly Osberg, The New Republic, 28 Dec. 2021 From a year that seemed to promise little, the results have been a pleasant surprise. Tom Hyland, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 But in announcing the postponement, the Grammys did promise that a new date would be arrive imminently… and that can’t happen without a home base in mind. Chris Willman, Variety, 6 Jan. 2022

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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Time Traveler for promise

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near promise

promiscuous

promise

promised land

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Statistics for promise

Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Promise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/promise. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for promise

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

More from Merriam-Webster on promise

Nglish: Translation of promise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of promise for Arabic Speakers

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