pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Definition of presume

transitive verb

1 : to undertake without leave or clear justification : dare
2 : to expect or assume especially with confidence
3 : to suppose to be true without proof presumed innocent until proved guilty
4 : to take for granted : imply

intransitive verb

1 : to act or proceed presumptuously or on a presumption
2 : to go beyond what is right or proper

Other Words from presume

presumedly \ pri-​ˈzü-​məd-​lē How to pronounce presume (audio) , -​ˈzümd-​lē How to pronounce presume (audio) \ adverb
presumer noun

The Difference Between Assume and Presume

Assume and presume both mean "to take something for granted" or "to take something as true," but the words differ in the degree of confidence the person assuming or presuming has. Presume is used when someone is making an informed guess based on reasonable evidence. Assume is used when the guess is based on little or no evidence.

Presume functions a little differently in the legal catchphrase "presumed innocent until proven guilty." That sense of presume is separately defined as "to suppose to be true without proof." It is based on the fact that legal systems grant a defendant the presumption of innocence, thereby placing the burden of proof on the prosecution.

Examples of presume in a Sentence

“Is she still at work?” “I presume so, since she's not home.” The court must presume innocence until there is proof of guilt.
Recent Examples on the Web This is especially true when selecting a pet, a time when owners often presume a dog of the same breed will be the same as their previous companion. NBC News, 28 Apr. 2022 Anderson does not presume to understand how everyone who identifies as transgender thinks. Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2022 Some might presume that New Orleans will keep an eye on the quarterbacks after swinging a deal Monday to equip the team with two picks in the late teens, especially if Pickett falls within striking distance. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, 5 Apr. 2022 But don’t presume that guarantees you office space inside Halas Hall through the 2026 season. Dan Wiederer,, 27 Jan. 2022 Under a program launched in 2016, companies that report bribes paid to foreign officials, cooperate with prosecutors and take steps to prevent future infractions can presume the Justice Department will decline to prosecute them. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 30 Mar. 2022 The authors are not unaware of these risks and presume that gateway reforms (such as all-mail voting and same-day registration) would need to accompany universal voting. Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2022 Indian diplomats likely presume that that Putin’s Russia will continue to reciprocate India’s loyalty as the USSR did during India’s border conflicts and on Kashmir. Anjani Jain, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2022 The man, who police presume to be an undocumented migrant, was later confirmed to have been killed by a Border Patrol agent. Julie Luchetta, The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'presume.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of presume

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for presume

Middle English, from Late Latin & Anglo-French; Anglo-French presumer, from Late Latin praesumere to dare, from Latin, to anticipate, assume, from prae- + sumere to take — more at consume

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Time Traveler for presume

Time Traveler

The first known use of presume was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near presume



presumed dead

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Presume.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for presume


pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Kids Definition of presume

1 : to undertake without permission or good reason : dare They … did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals.— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
2 : to suppose to be true without proof A person is presumed innocent until proved guilty.


transitive verb
pre·​sume | \ pri-ˈzüm How to pronounce presume (audio) \
presumed; presuming

Legal Definition of presume

: to suppose to be true without proof or before inquiry : accept as a presumption must presume the defendant is innocent

More from Merriam-Webster on presume

Nglish: Translation of presume for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of presume for Arabic Speakers


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