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 empty promises of solidarity fall on deaf ears because the actions are contrary to what is said. Valerie Complex, Harper's BAZAAR, "Brie Larson Wants Captain Marvel to Change the Film Industry," 25 Mar. 2019 Or not nothing, per se, but the promise of Steam Link Anywhere is that your Steam library continues on as normal. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Steam Link Anywhere lets you play your Steam library on the go," 14 Mar. 2019 For all of that, though, Trump advisers on the campaign and inside the White House insist, that fulfilled or not, the promise of a wall is a winning issue for Trump. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trump tries to turn border debate his way with El Paso rally," 12 Feb. 2019 The promise of an air purifier is an enticing one: An appliance designed to cleanse the air in your home, getting rid of all the impurities including odors, smoke, dust, and pet dander. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "Do Air Purifiers Actually Work?," 17 Dec. 2018 But the big-picture promise for the league is that of home and away matches, where each team plays games out of arenas in their respective cities, much like in professional sports leagues like the NBA or NFL. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Blizzard’s Overwatch League will have its first home games in Atlanta, Dallas, and LA next year," 12 Dec. 2018 That's the promise of BB Glo, a microneedling procedure that inserts semi-permanent BB cream into the skin for coverage that lasts six months to a year. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "What Is Semi-Permanent BB Cream, and Why Are People Getting It Microneedled Into Their Faces?," 9 Nov. 2018 Well, the great promise is in the areas that are reinventing themselves the quickest and that’d probably be Texas. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why tech companies need to reinvent themselves every three to four years," 10 Oct. 2018 In my book, the promise of cold water all weekend is enough to balance out the size and weight drawbacks. Ariella Gintzler, Outside Online, "Yeti's Silo 6G Reinvents the Water Cooler," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Buttigieg was elected to office in his hometown in 2011 at age 29 (the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 resident) after promising to revitalize South Bend. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Who Is Pete Buttigeig, the Gay Millennial Mayor the Democrats Didn't See Coming?," 1 Apr. 2019 The Justice Department did not explain its reasoning in a two-sentence letter to the court, but promised a full and timely explanation for the appeals judges. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, The Seattle Times, "Dems cry foul as Trump calls for striking down ‘Obamacare’," 27 Mar. 2019 Although the available openings demand more behind-the-scenes work rather than on-screen opportunities, the positions still sound promising for Hallmark fans. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Kellie Pickler's New Hallmark Movie 'Wedding at Graceland' Is Hiring," 23 Mar. 2019 Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg News Also wounded in the crash: many companies and technology platforms that promised to transform businesses from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Bitcoin Is in the Dumps, Spreading Gloom Over Crypto World," 19 Mar. 2019 Baraf also used Surratt Beauty Auto-Graphique Eyeliner, a $42 pick that promises smooth, precise application and long-lasting cat eyes. Marci Robin, Allure, "Lea Michele’s Wedding Makeup Included a $9 Drugstore Mascara, and Her Lashes Looked Gorgeous," 16 Mar. 2019 Now, retailers are paring data harvested from purchases and loyalty programs with analytical tools that promise advertisers bigger bang for their buck. Matthew Boyle, The Seattle Times, "Amazon has a big advertising business. Walmart wants one too," 19 Feb. 2019 Perhaps the larger issue is that cultural messaging tells women to always be aiming younger, reaching for anti-aging serums, cosmetic treatments, and workouts that promise a fetishized image of youthfulness. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "In the Year of the Runway Zaddy, Where Are the MILFs?," 4 Feb. 2019 The scenery is lovely, all autumn foliage and breathtaking mountains; the map is huge and decorated with all kinds of seemingly unique locales; and you’re being led by holotape on a journey that promises to be epic. Sarah Leboeuf, Ars Technica, "Two weeks in, Fallout 76 is a lonely, glitchy, flawed mess," 28 Nov. 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

23 Apr 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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not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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