verb (used with object), prom·ised, prom·is·ing.

verb (used without object), prom·ised, prom·is·ing.

to afford ground for expectation (often followed by well or fair): His forthcoming novel promises well.
to make a promise.

Origin of promise

1375–1425; (noun) late Middle English promis(se) < Medieval Latin prōmissa, for Latin prōmissum, noun use of neuter past participle of prōmittere to promise, literally, to send forth, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + mittere to send; (v.) late Middle English promisen, derivative of the noun
Related formsprom·is·a·ble, adjectiveprom·ise·ful, adjectiveprom·is·er, nounout·prom·ise, verb (used with object), out·prom·ised, out·prom·is·ing.o·ver·prom·ise, verb (used with object), o·ver·prom·ised, o·ver·prom·is·ing.pre·prom·ise, noun, verb (used with object), pre·prom·ised, pre·prom·is·ing.qua·si-prom·ised, adjectivere·prom·ise, verb, re·prom·ised, re·prom·is·ing.un·prom·ised, adjective

Synonyms for promise Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for promise

Contemporary Examples of promise

Historical Examples of promise

  • I promise you I shall not, Mr. Bines; they can row if they like.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Hester Paine, as a young lady, fulfills the promise of her girlhood.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Knife, however, must promise to leave his land to his son-in-law in case he died.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • She was trying to extort a promise that she should appear in its pages, which, as we all remember, she did.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • If we would promise we must put ourselves in a position to perform our promise.

British Dictionary definitions for promise



(often foll by to; when tr, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to give an assurance of (something to someone); undertake (to do something) in the futureI promise that I will come
(tr) to undertake to give (something to someone)he promised me a car for my birthday
(when tr, takes an infinitive) to cause one to expect that in the future one is likely (to be or do something)she promises to be a fine soprano
(usually passive) to engage to be married; betrothI'm promised to Bill
(tr) to assure (someone) of the authenticity or inevitability of something (often in the parenthetic phrase I promise you, used to emphasize a statement)there'll be trouble, I promise you


an undertaking or assurance given by one person to another agreeing or guaranteeing to do or give something, or not to do or give something, in the future
indication of forthcoming excellence or goodnessa writer showing considerable promise
the thing of which an assurance is given
Derived Formspromiser, noun

Word Origin for promise

C14: from Latin prōmissum a promise, from prōmittere to send forth
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

Word Origin and History for promise

c.1400, "a pledge, vow," from Old French promesse "promise, guarantee, assurance" (13c.) and directly from Latin promissum "a promise," noun use of neuter past participle of promittere "send forth; let go; foretell; assure beforehand, promise," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + mittere "to put, send" (see mission). The ground sense is "declaration made about the future, about some act to be done or not done."


c.1400, from promise (n.). Related: Promised; promising. Promised land (1530s) is a reference to the land of Canaan promised to Abraham and his progeny (Hebrew xi:9, etc.; Greek ten ges tes epangelias).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with promise


see lick and a promise.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.