Word Confusion: Assume versus Presume

Posted February 26, 2019 by kddidit in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I presume you assume you’ll be celebrating Valentine’s day. And that you presume to assume a card and a gift will show up at dinner.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Assume Presume
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: assume and presume

Hiker walking away from us along a trail of broken stone and appears to be about to walk off a cliff

The Dismantled Slate Tramway by Andrew Bowden is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr.

I assume this hiker knows he’s approaching a cliff…??

A close-up of a couple about to kiss

Riverfront Kiss by Jerome Strauss is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Flickr.

I presume they’re about to kiss…

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: assumes
Past tense or past participle: assumed
Gerund or present participle: assuming

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: presumes
Past tense or past participle: presumed
Gerund or present participle: presuming

To suppose without any evidence

Verb, intransitive:
To take something for granted

  • Presume

Verb, transitive:
Suppose to be the case, without proof

Take or begin to have power or responsibility

  • Seize power or control

Take on a specified quality, appearance, or extent

  • Take on or adopt (a manner or identity), sometimes falsely

[Archaic] To take in or receive

  • To take into association
To suppose based on probability

Verb, intransitive:
Be audacious enough to do something

  • Make unjustified demands
  • Take liberties
  • [presume on, presume upon] Unjustifiably regard something as entitling one to privileges

To take something for granted

  • Suppose

To act or proceed with unwarrantable or impertinent boldness

Verb, transitive:
Suppose that something is the case on the basis of probability

  • Take for granted that something exists or is the case

[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

Verb, intransitive:
Do not assume.

It’s a role she has been invited to assume.

“Is Kay’s husband coming to dinner too?” “I assume so.”

Verb, transitive:
It is reasonable to assume that such changes have significant social effects.

They were assumed to be foreign.

You’re afraid of what people are going to assume about me.

He assumed full responsibility for all organizational work.

The rebels assumed control of the capital.

Militant activity had assumed epidemic proportions.

Oliver assumed an expression of penitence.

She puts on a disguise, assumes a different persona, and cruises the squalid bars on the bad side of town.

He was a man living under an assumed name.

Verb, intransitive:
Kindly don’t presume to issue me orders in my own house.

Forgive me if I have presumed.

She knew he regarded her as his protegée, but was determined not to presume on that.

Kindly don’t presume to issue me orders in my own house.

He was wary of presuming on the close friendship between them.

Don’t presume on their hospitality.

Don’t presume on his agreement.

Verb, transitive:
I presumed that the man had been escorted from the building.

I presume you’re tired after your drive.

The two men were presumed dead when the wreck of their boat was found.

The argument presumes that only one person can do the work.

The task demands skills that cannot be presumed and therefore require proper training.

Everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Adjective: assumable, assumed
Adverb: assumably, assumedly
Noun: assumability, assumer, assumption
Verb, transitive: overassume, overassumed, overassuming, preassume, preassumed, preassuming, reassume, reassumed, reassuming
Adjective: presumable, presuming, unpresumed
Adverb: presumably, presumedly, presumingly
Noun: presumer, presumption
History of the Word:
Late Middle English from the Latin assumere, from ad- (towards) + sumere (take). Late Middle English from the Old French presumer, which is from the Latin praesumere meaning anticipate (in late Latin take for granted), from prae (before) + sumere (take).

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

Satisfy your curiosity about other Word Confusions by exploring the index. You may also want to explore Formatting Tips, Grammar Explanations, and/or the Properly Punctuated.

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Book of Genesis Chapter 22–8 by Jim Padgett is courtesy of Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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