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 federal government in June acknowledged that ongoing research indicates psychedelics hold promise for treating anxiety. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Magic mushrooms for better health? Psychedelic drugs are having a moment across US," 24 Aug. 2019 But sturgeons like the one in Ivanov’s net hold the promise of changing one’s life. Denise Hruby, Los Angeles Times, "Craving for caviar is driving the Danube River’s sturgeon to extinction," 22 Aug. 2019 The solar sail is propelled only by sunlight, and its technology holds promise for early detection of major events in space, as well as travel across vast distances. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "Hey Teachers, Get to Know Your Students' Preconceptions," 22 Aug. 2019 In addition to holding promise for people suffering from traumatic brain injury and early-onset dementia, this function of cannabis is also of great interest to people with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. chicagotribune.com, "Marijuana makes your brain more plasticky, and that’s a good thing," 22 Aug. 2019 True to the promise of those who attempted to cover up various wrongdoings, there was precious little information to be found about Legasov when Harris began seeking out his history. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "That time Jared Harris maybe helped a murderer get away and other stories," 22 Aug. 2019 Apartments and condos are going up everywhere, the promise of the city’s plan to fully realize itself. Gregory Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "One Day, One Place: Sacramento," 22 Aug. 2019 Where others saw only short-term opportunities, McCord saw great coalescing shapes that held out the promise of vast enrichment for himself. Larry Millett, Twin Cities, "From the archives: Murder-on-a-stick: A Pioneer Press serial mystery novel (Chapter 1)," 21 Aug. 2019 Many agree that the emerging wave of technological innovation in fields including robotics and artificial intelligence holds the promise of boosting productivity. Robert D. Atkinson, National Review, "Higher Productivity Is Good for Workers," 25 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Although many features resemble what other matchmaking services offer, Facebook’s version promises to be different, just as Tinder brought swiping and Bumble brought female-first messaging. Barbara Ortutay, SFChronicle.com, "Friends with benefits: Can Facebook tackle your love life?," 6 Sep. 2019 Although many features resemble what other matchmaking services offer, Facebook’s version promises to be different, just as Tinder brought swiping and Bumble brought female-first messaging. Barbara Ortutay, Los Angeles Times, "Going from like to love: Facebook online dating service launches in U.S.," 5 Sep. 2019 Although many of its features resemble what other matchmaking services offer, Facebook's version promises to be different. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "As Facebook launches "Facebook Dating" in U.S., a blog finds 400 million exposed user phone numbers," 5 Sep. 2019 Windy City promises a highly interactive production in an intimate setting. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Fall preview: Top 10 picks for Chicago theater from ‘Color Purple’ to ‘King’s Speech’," 5 Sep. 2019 The 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season promises to be the biggest and best yet in a new age for women’s football in England, following the popularity of the summer’s World Cup. SI.com, "2019/20 Women's Super League Preview: All Teams, Key Players, Transfers, How to Watch & More," 4 Sep. 2019 Over the Top also promises to uncover new personal details about Van Ness’ life, diving into his psyche as both a private and public person. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "The 42 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2019," 30 Aug. 2019 The listing promises the workshops have no more than 10 people. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "An Airbnb host is offering mock Amazon job interviews for $5,300," 30 Aug. 2019 With defensive menaces Kory Tacha and Logan Marx back, Limon promises to field a defense as salty as the one that held opponents to single digits in all but one game last season. Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "Preseason Colorado Prep Football Power 20: Valor Christian… isn’t No. 1?," 29 Aug. 2019

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

27 Aug 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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