pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəm(p)-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: presumptuous attitude or conduct : audacity
: an attitude or belief dictated by probability : assumption
: the ground, reason, or evidence lending probability to a belief
: a legal inference as to the existence or truth of a fact not certainly known that is drawn from the known or proved existence of some other fact

Examples of presumption in a Sentence

The trial was unfair from the beginning because there was no presumption of innocence. a defendant's right to a presumption of innocence
Recent Examples on the Web This apparent presumption of danger courses through the book, from her teenage crop-tops to the over-the-counter energy supplements given to her by a nutritionist, which provoke her conservators to institutionalize her (twice with the help of a SWAT team). Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2023 The long-standing presumption of progressives has been that their own side is identified with righteousness — with tolerance, reason, and the finest of American traditions — while conservatives are hateful troglodytes who aren’t just wrong, but ill-intentioned. Rich Lowry, National Review, 31 Oct. 2023 In debates about government intervention in the economy, our presumption should always be in favor of freedom. The Editors, National Review, 16 Oct. 2023 The risk of public officials being harassed is a factor addressed by most, if not all, open records laws in the United States, which are traditionally built on a presumption that favors disclosure. Dell Cameron, WIRED, 4 Oct. 2023 With the presumption Palou would be joining for 2024 and Arrow McLaren's ability to jump up to four full-time cars uncertain, Rosenqvist's six top-10s (and two top-5s) over the final eight races of 2022 only marginally carried over to the start of this season. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Sep. 2023 But that presumption leaves the CAN bus vulnerable to hackers. Doug Jacobson, The Conversation, 14 Aug. 2023 While he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, serving in public office is a privilege that demands a higher standard of conduct. Allison Pecorin, ABC News, 26 Sep. 2023 Pinto’s emergency legislation in July created a presumption that adults charged with violent or dangerous offenses be held in jail before trial — something council member Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) unsuccessfully sought to strike from the bill. Michael Brice-Saddler, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'presumption.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English presumpcioun, from Anglo-French presumption, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin praesumption-, praesumptio presumptuous attitude, from Latin, assumption, from praesumere

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of presumption was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near presumption

Cite this Entry

“Presumption.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəm(p)-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: presumptuous attitude or behavior
: strong reason for believing something to be so in spite of lack of proof
: something believed but not proved

Legal Definition


pre·​sump·​tion pri-ˈzəmp-shən How to pronounce presumption (audio)
: an inference as to the existence of a fact not certainly known that the law requires to be drawn from the known or proven existence of some other fact
conclusive presumption
: a presumption that the law does not allow to be rebutted

called also irrebuttable presumption

compare rebuttable presumption in this entry
mandatory presumption
: a presumption that a jury is required by law to make upon proof of a given fact compare permissive presumption in this entry
permissive presumption
: an inference or presumption that a jury is allowed but not required to make from a given set of facts

called also permissive inference

compare mandatory presumption in this entry
presumption of fact
: a presumption founded on a previous experience or on general knowledge of a connection between a known fact and one inferred from it
presumption of innocence
: a rebuttable presumption in the favor of the defendant in a criminal action imposing on the prosecution the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
presumption of intent
: a permissive presumption that if a criminal defendant committed an act it was his or her intent to commit it
presumption of law
: a presumption (as of the innocence of a criminal defendant) founded on a rule or policy of law regardless of fact
presumption of survivorship
: the presumption in the absence of direct evidence that of two or more persons dying in a common disaster (as a fire) one was the last to die because of youth, strength, or other reasons rendering survivorship likely
rebuttable presumption
: a presumption that may be rebutted by evidence to the contrary compare conclusive presumption in this entry

More from Merriam-Webster on presumption

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