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presume

[ pri-zoom ]
/ prɪˈzum /
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See synonyms for: presume / presumed / presuming on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), pre·sumed, pre·sum·ing.
to take for granted, assume, or suppose: I presume you're tired after your drive.
Law. to assume as true in the absence of proof to the contrary.
to undertake with unwarrantable boldness.
to undertake (to do something) without right or permission: to presume to speak for another.
verb (used without object), pre·sumed, pre·sum·ing.
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Origin of presume

1300–50; Middle English presumen (<Old French presumer) <Latin praesūmere to take beforehand (Late Latin: take for granted, assume, dare), equivalent to prae-pre- + sūmere to take up, suppose (see consume)

OTHER WORDS FROM presume

pre·sum·ed·ly [pri-zoo-mid-lee], /prɪˈzu mɪd li/, adverbpre·sum·er, nounun·pre·sumed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

PRESUME VS. ASSUME

What is the difference between presume and assume?

Presume and assume have very similar meanings—they both mean to suppose that something is true without being able to confirm it. Assume, however, usually implies that the conclusion reached by the person doing the assuming is not based on much. Presume, on the other hand, often implies that the conclusion is based on something a bit stronger, such as some evidence or past situations in which the same thing happened.

For example, you might presume that someone will be attending a meeting because they always attend and you have no reason to think they won’t be there. The word assume could also be used in this scenario, but it’s most likely to be used in situations in which there was less of a reason to have come to a certain conclusion. For example, you might assume something about someone you’ve just met based only on how they look (which is never a good idea).

A good way to remember this difference in how the two words are used is that the prefix pre- in presume means “before”—when you presume things, you’re often basing that presumption on something that has happened before. As for assume, well, we’ll just assume you know a good way of remembering how it’s used.

Presume and assume also have a few meanings that don’t overlap. Presume can mean to undertake or do something without permission or justification, as in I don’t presume to speak for the entire class. Assume can mean to take on, adopt, or be endowed with something, as in I don’t want to assume any new responsibilities.

Here are examples of presume and assume used correctly in a sentence.

Example: I presumed, based on your resume, that you knew how to work with this software.

Example: I assumed you knew what you were doing when you volunteered to bake the cake, but apparently I shouldn’t have.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between presume and assume.

Quiz yourself on presume vs. assume!

Is presume or assume the better choice in the following sentence?

We don’t know anything, so we shouldn’t _____ anything.

How to use presume in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for presume

presume
/ (prɪˈzjuːm) /

verb
(when tr, often takes a clause as object) to take (something) for granted; assume
(when tr, often foll by an infinitive) to take upon oneself (to do something) without warrant or permission; daredo you presume to copy my work?
(intr; foll by on or upon) to rely or dependdon't presume on his agreement
law to take as proved until contrary evidence is produced

Derived forms of presume

presumedly (prɪˈzjuːmɪdlɪ), adverbpresumer, nounpresuming, adjectivepresumingly, adverb

Word Origin for presume

C14: via Old French from Latin praesūmere to take in advance, from prae before + sūmere to assume
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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