Dictionary.com

Presume vs. Assume

PresumeAssume

When do you presume, and when do you assume? These two words are often used interchangeably, likely because they come from the same Latin root and are used in similar contexts. However, there are subtle differences in meaning between the two. Today we put all assumptions aside, and get to the bottom presume and assume.

Both of these terms mean “to take for granted” or “suppose,” but presume conveys a little more confidence based on probability, reasonable grounds, or evidence. Assume is to take for granted without proof. In other words, something you presume is more likely to be true than something you assume.

Both terms derive from the Latin sūmere meaning “to take up.” The Latin assūmere means “to take to oneself; adopt.” Praesūmere, incorporating the prefix prae- meaning “before,” means “to take upon oneself beforehand; to anticipate.”

The famous expression “Dr. Livingston, I presume” sheds further light on the difference between these terms. This line was delivered by British American journalist and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley in 1871 when he arrived in Tanzania and located David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer whom several search parties had been sent to find as he had not been heard from for several years. Upon meeting Livingstone, Stanley remarked, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Stanley’s use of presume is appropriate because Livingstone was, at the time, the only white European in the area, giving Stanley reasonable grounds on which to make such a presumption.

If you still aren’t sure how presume and assume are really any different, you aren’t alone. The key to deciphering between assume and presume is to understand that these two terms convey different degrees of certainty. However, in modern English, presume and assume are considered close enough in meaning to stand as substitutes for one another when you want to say “to take something as true,” so rest assured that your audience will still understand the intention of your sentence if you accidentally confuse the two.

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105 Comments

  1. linda -  October 24, 2016 - 6:18 am

    An easy way to remember the difference in presume and assume is to use the first 3 letters of these words. Pre, meaning before, says you already have some knowledge about the subject. Ass is what you could make of yourself if you have no knowledge of the subject.
    Sorry if this has been previously written.
    This is the best teaching on grammar and it’s broken down so simply.

    Reply
  2. Jill -  June 6, 2016 - 4:21 am

    What I’m taking away from this is that assume = wild guess and presume = educated guess.

    Reply
    • Michael -  August 14, 2016 - 7:52 am

      Simple and precise. Thank you Jill.

      Reply
  3. Connor -  June 2, 2016 - 12:54 am

    So if something is currently ongoing that is to say it is happening at present are you making a presumption or an assumption about it? I understand a presumtion is prior to the event taking place and assumption is if the event has taken place already

    Reply
  4. Lu Blue -  October 16, 2015 - 5:24 am

    If your boss is the one who has the money which is used directly or indirectly, to pay your wages, and he makes a false statement, and precedes that statement by saying, “Presumably, these are the fact,” and if you have any sense at all that you want to retain your job under that boss, you will agree that his false statements are “presumably” true.

    Follow the Money, and you will presumably learn that “presumed facts” are not always valid facts in a political world.

    Reply
    • Tina Jaques -  January 19, 2016 - 7:34 pm

      Presumably, this article was meant to explain the subtle differences between these two very similar words in order to promote the use of them both separately and properly. Since the differences are so extremely subtle, I assume most people will not see the importance of differentiating between them at all!

      Reply
      • Tom -  January 20, 2016 - 5:00 pm

        Actually Tina, given your understanding of the subtilty of the two words, you would more likely presume that most people will not see the importance of differentiating between them at all.

        Presume conveys a little more confidence based on probability, reasonable grounds, or evidence, which you have. :P

        Reply
  5. Jeff Sanborn -  September 15, 2015 - 1:29 pm

    This distinction is important in any legal trial. A criminal defendant is PRESUMED to be innocent. This is even true if everyone knows that he or she confessed to the crime and there are a dozen videos of the defendant committing the crime. Until a verdict is reached, the defendant is considered innocent by everyone — legally innocent, that is. Contrast this with the danger that a potential juror might ASSUME that a defendant is guilty given that the state went to all the trouble of charging him or her. (Yes, this is often the case, and the jurors are instructed by the judge to give no weight to that fact.) Note that this presumption is no more or less likely to be true (as asserted in this article). It is merely a decision regarding how we will conduct our trials. Also note that assumptions are used during a trial when forming a hypothetical question. An expert witness may be asked to assume an entire series of facts to be true in order to ask a question, “Assuming, Doctor, that all of these facts are true, do you have an opinion regarding…..”

    Reply
    • me -  September 16, 2015 - 1:39 pm

      hehe lol :) :( :D D: XP

      Reply
      • PAL -  October 1, 2015 - 8:39 am

        Jeff Sanborn,
        Assume means to decide on something without any facts.
        With that in mind, wouldn’t the defendant pleading guilty to the charges give you the assumption that they were guilty?

        Reply
  6. Sathish -  September 14, 2015 - 2:29 am

    Very useful….

    Reply
    • violetora -  September 14, 2015 - 12:15 pm

      so much comments lol (for all u peeps that cant define lol it means laugh out loud :| ha ha ) anyways i dont make that mistake but thats me u may make that mistake.ttyl (talk to u later) bye!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • HIKEPLAYS82 -  September 15, 2015 - 2:01 pm

        Hi guys i dont know if you know me am a ps4 player GT5 would you put more words like lol and the definiton bye see you later subscribe my channel.

        Reply
      • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 6:51 pm

        lol means laughing out loud. You are not commanding the reader to laugh out loud. You are describing yourself, and hence the subject material. The writer saw the material and is now laughing out loud because it’s so funny.
        BTW: You have a shift key somewhere. Please locate it. Its use will make you look (sound?) so much better. The slang “peeps” is okay; just put quote marks around slang. You’re apologizing for using such poor English—even on purpose.
        If you do interrupt yourself with a full sentence as an explanation, go ahead and capitalize the first word. You’ll not sound like a foreigner, but a real native American from one of our 50 states!

        Reply
      • Corey -  November 30, 2016 - 11:54 am

        So many comments, not much, violetora

        Reply
  7. M.Z.Adam -  September 13, 2015 - 7:15 pm

    I presume assumptions have been made based on collective experiences either properly declared or ‘assumptuously’ involved. Thanks! For very informative.
    Revealing the informative part of the meanings might be subjective to the understanding of an actual meanings to be conveyed. I’m afraid of falling in the situation of assuming to presume the degree of certainty of any.

    Reply
  8. jane -  September 10, 2015 - 4:36 pm

    PRESUME: to continue on with something
    ASSUME: to guess about something

    Kxyz i think so to!!!!

    Reply
    • GMCG -  September 15, 2015 - 4:30 pm

      I think so too.
      there is no such thing as “I think so to”
      well then thank you :)

      Reply
      • God Almighty -  September 16, 2015 - 10:20 am

        Pretentious prick!

        Reply
    • Corey -  November 30, 2016 - 11:56 am

      jane, that’s resume, not presume

      Reply
  9. Ashish -  September 10, 2015 - 1:26 pm

    Thanks for this explanation.

    Reply
  10. Andrew -  September 10, 2015 - 10:32 am

    The 1970′s American TV sitcom “The Odd Couple” provided a practical example of the inherit problem associated with the action of assuming something to be factual when it isn’t.

    Odd Couple no.1 (Felix Unger) is acting as defence attorney on behalf of Odd Couple no.2 (Oscar Madison- the accused). Felix cross-examines a witness providing evidence for the prosecutions case and seizes upon the instance of the witness’s assumption of a fact, demonstrating for the court the folly of the word “assume”. On a chalkboard Felix writes “ASS U ME” (leaving spaces on either side of the letter “u”) while boldly exclaiming: “When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME”. The case was dismissed.
    I watched this 40 years ago and obviously did not forget the lesson.

    Reply
    • Marc -  September 21, 2015 - 8:50 pm

      Thanks for posting that Andrew, excellent explanation on the word “Assume” and written with care.

      Reply
  11. Ibrahim Uba Ringim -  September 9, 2015 - 11:38 pm

    I found this article very helpful. Great explanation for the difference between presume and assume.

    Reply
  12. Rajkumar Mahaganapat -  September 8, 2015 - 10:18 pm

    As per my understanding & keen observation, one can distinctly present the difference between presume & assume.
    ASSUME – in a way taken for GRANTED BY TOTAL IMAGINATION ONLY which in reality never takes place as assumed & not presumed.

    PRESUME – THE WAY ONE UNDERSTANDS OR ANALYZES THE RESPECTIVE TOPIC OR PERSON ON THE RADAR TO COME TO SOME CONCRETE CONCLUSIONS IF NOT 100% BASED ON PREVIOUS HAPPENINGS AS BASE PROOF FOR ANALYSIS & THEN everything is presumed to happen in this way if it’s done in this manner & not assumed as this is the way it will happen.
    Hope I am closer to perfecting the difference between PRESUME & ASSUME without confusing one & all.

    Reply
    • Bob Micheals -  September 10, 2015 - 6:36 am

      Rajkumar Mahaganapat, please note as per is redundant. Per, without as, conveys the same meaning. And in some cases, as on its own would work just as well as as per, especially with the common phrase as per usual.

      This information per grammarist.com.

      Reply
    • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 9:10 pm

      How so? Did s.o. type the wrong name? I did not catch that.
      Please give us readers the first line (name, date, and time.) Thanks.

      Reply
    • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 9:56 pm

      Hey, dost; I am more confused. I totally agree with you until the “PRESUME–” sentence. From “THE WAY ONE,” to the end of that section, “is the way it will happen,” is 1 sentence. The sentence is 59 words long. The American Pledge of Allegiance is only 29.

      **There are, I’ll bet, more than 2 run-on main clauses. You could have started a new sentence before, “THEN”. bhai
      **”CONCRETE CONCLUSIONS: Are you dividing concrete conclusion from others? Then why make us stop off to think that through? Eliminate it, please. bhai
      **UNDERSTANDS AND ANALYZES: Do you need me to think about both analytical and the understanding viewpoints? It can also go.
      **RESPECTIVE: Means what: Sounds like stuffing just for stuffing purposes. Verbosity is not a good attribute. bhai
      **TOPIC OR PERSON: Is it necessary to include both? Wouldn’t it be just as clear as presuming if you say one the other would be included in most our minds? This is not a legal document. bhai
      **PUNCTUATION: Try breaking up the thoughts. Remember a sentence is a complete thought. Not thoughts so complex.

      NOTES:
      **bhai means full stop in Hindi. I think it’s just a word that means “end of sentence,” or a period. bhai
      **dost is Hindi for, “friend”.
      [Yes. I presumed he is an Indian and speaks Hindi. His name indicates that to me. My other thought is an assumption. Raj is Laotian. Lao, the language, beats German for long words. :-) ] Feedback welcome.

      Reply
      • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 9:59 pm

        MY BAD—
        So sorry. the word I meant was “hai” (sounds like ‘hey’)
        “Bhai” means s.th. like, “brother”. Not sure.

        Reply
  13. Shahjahan -  September 6, 2015 - 1:45 pm

    The words presume and assume, both mean “to take something for granted”. The only difference lies in the degree of certainty. Presume implies a higher degree of certainty as based on some reasonable proof or evidence. However, assume is used when there is little or no evidence or proof.

    Reply
    • Imran -  September 11, 2015 - 12:10 am

      I agree!

      Reply
      • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 10:01 pm

        I agree!

        Reply
    • Priscilla -  September 11, 2015 - 12:30 am

      presume – assume :)
      presumption – assumption :)
      presumptuous – assumptuous?

      Reply
      • angel -  September 15, 2015 - 6:02 pm

        Its hard to understand

        Reply
    • hi -  September 13, 2015 - 3:44 pm

      I think the same thing about you.one day.

      Reply
  14. B. Michael -  September 6, 2015 - 12:58 pm

    Love It

    Reply
  15. Nico -  September 4, 2015 - 9:47 am

    Presume means to go on and assume is when you just think something is true.

    Reply
    • Javier -  September 11, 2015 - 12:54 am

      ‘Resume’ is the word for your first explanation.

      Reply
      • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 7:17 pm

        Huh?
        Examples, please.

        Reply
        • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 10:06 pm

          Oh, I get it. You, Javier, are straightening out Nico. YOU ARE RIGHT TOO.
          Resume your work now.

          Reply
    • Joel -  September 11, 2015 - 7:28 pm

      Resume means to go on.

      Reply
  16. Zhi Li -  September 3, 2015 - 5:08 pm

    Great Word Facts. Get a better understanding between presume and assume ; )

    Reply
  17. Gardan the Blue -  September 3, 2015 - 10:31 am

    I found this article very helpful!

    Reply
  18. Trudi -  September 2, 2015 - 8:24 pm

    I would make the distinction that a presumption is made on a “confidence based on OBJECTIVE probability, reasonable grounds, or evidence.” We operate from assumptions most of the time, and if asked for the thinking behind the assumption, we would have “confidence based on FILTERED probability, reasonable grounds, or [the] evidence [of our own] EXPERIENCE. Assumptions are the result of subjective thinking arising from the unconscious omission of relevant data.

    Reply
  19. Presume VS Assume -  September 2, 2015 - 3:14 pm

    I assume that you presume you know the difference between ‘assume’ and ‘presume’.

    Reply
  20. Quick -  September 2, 2015 - 1:30 pm

    So, does that mean, when I say that I assume we will be going to lunch at restaurant “A” because we have been going there every day for years, I’m really presuming it? Would I be more accurate in saying, “I presume we’ll go to restaurant ‘A’”?

    Reply
    • Oph.shak -  September 12, 2015 - 3:08 pm

      -Quick, reading your question, and all the definitions above, I would
      continue to ‘assume we’ll go to restaurant A’
      because in order to presume, your statement would be based on at least one or two concrete facts as evidence, that leads you inevitably to restaurant A.

      Reply
    • Bharat -  September 14, 2015 - 9:03 am

      I would tend to disagree. In this case assume appears more correct. To elaborate – if an old friend invited ‘let’s meet at lunch’ with no intimation where, one would assume restaurant “A”.
      Presuming would lead to making some decisions, e.g., like booking a cab, etc., mind you difference still remains subtle

      Reply
  21. Sissy Dupe -  September 1, 2015 - 11:17 pm

    “If you are a Hume, you assume. If you don’t assume you are Kapitän!” -The Fall

    Reply
    • Michael -  September 17, 2016 - 7:24 pm

      Huh?

      Reply
  22. Volshebny -  September 1, 2015 - 5:07 pm

    Well, native speakers often choose presume out of being PC (politically correct) because as soon as you use the word assume, you’re often reminded what ASSUME spells… it makes an A$$ out of U and ME. If not PC, it’s just to avoid this debate.

    Reply
    • Russ W -  September 8, 2015 - 12:36 pm

      I remember that from Benny Hill back in the day. Funny how the trivial stick in your mind around certain words.

      Reply
    • Leilani -  September 9, 2015 - 6:05 am

      By far my favorite comment on this blog is your definition :-)

      Reply
      • Donna -  September 10, 2015 - 11:01 am

        Volshebny did not give a definition. A$$ out of U and ME is mnemonic device used to help remember the difference between the two words — assumptions are not necessarily based in fact, thus may make one look like a fool; on the other hand, presumptions should be based on evidence.

        For example: After you finish your lunch, your friend leaves a $10 bill on the table you may assume s/he is paying for your lunch, but you likely should presume s/he is leaving the server a tip.

        Reply
    • Neal -  September 12, 2015 - 3:13 pm

      This is due to the fact that if you have actual information to base your suppositions on you are less likely to make an A$$ out of those involved.

      Reply
  23. Holly -  August 31, 2015 - 11:21 pm

    to presume is to assume, but with reason to think so. e.g., you would presume that your sister would share with you after your mother told her to.
    to assume is to guess, with no reason to think so.

    Reply
  24. curious -  August 31, 2015 - 7:38 pm

    You can assume anything for the sake of argument. For example, “let’s assume that there’s life on Mars”. You can even assume things that are known to be untrue for the sake of argument. For example, talking to one’s 10-year-old kid one could say “let’s assume that you’re the richest person in the world……….” In neither case, can presume be used in place of assume.

    Reply
  25. Monica C. -  August 25, 2015 - 10:37 pm

    The famous expression “Dr. Livingston, I presume” sheds further light on the difference between these terms.

    There is also a subtle difference between “Livingston” and “Livingstone.”

    Reply
    • Katrina -  September 4, 2015 - 5:07 pm

      Ha! Nice catch.

      Reply
    • Rob -  September 13, 2015 - 10:30 pm

      Reminds me of the old joke,”What is Dr Presume’s full name?”

      Reply
  26. Monica C. -  August 25, 2015 - 4:29 pm

    I enjoyed this Word Fact! Now I have a better understanding of the subtle differences between “presume” and “assume.”

    ‘The famous expression “Dr. Livingston, I presume” sheds further light on the difference between these terms.’ There is also a subtle difference between “Livingstone” and “Livingston.” ;D

    Reply
  27. Samson N. Agbigwe -  August 25, 2015 - 6:46 am

    Thank you for a job well done. Nigeria West Africa

    Reply
    • Emily -  September 1, 2015 - 1:47 pm

      Hello from England!

      Reply
  28. 儒呢 -  August 25, 2015 - 6:37 am

    I’m quite surprised to hear that presume entails a stronger probability objectively speaking. My feeling is that the objective probability is comparable, but that presume entails a stronger subjective confidence—hence the negative connotation of presumptuous. I would think that presume connotes that the confidence is in some way greater than that which the evidence would permit a rational man to have, akin to prejudge.

    Reply
    • Paco -  August 28, 2015 - 8:21 am

      I believe “presume” is taken to imply either a reasonable grounds for a conclusion to be drawn or an “unreasonable” (i.e., subjective) grounds. For instance, when you presume to know someone’s emotional state, you’re drawing a conclusion sans evidence.

      Reply
      • Paco -  August 28, 2015 - 8:30 am

        Sans entirely reliable evidence, that is.

        Reply
    • Larisa -  September 1, 2015 - 5:00 am

      Precisely. Which is why “That’s terribly presumptuous of you!” is an accusation of the object stepping outside of reasonable bounds.

      Reply
    • David N. Kleppe -  September 1, 2015 - 8:32 pm

      Excellent subjective analysis. Language entails more than connotations and denotations, more than literal and figurative meanings. Usage of words by living people results in shifting contexts vs. fixed definitions established by historic use. I agree with you esp. since a living language is in the hands of living people. And that can alter set historical and lexicographical meanings.

      Reply
      • Jim C. -  September 9, 2015 - 12:52 pm

        I presume so David, well delineated.

        Reply
  29. Amber k Marya -  August 25, 2015 - 5:58 am

    Assume ( assumption) when you are not assured.

    Presume is used when you have some Pre- assumption .

    Reply
    • Guilly Teixeira -  August 31, 2015 - 3:05 pm

      I think you are right Amber. Simple as that!

      Reply
    • interested in English -  September 1, 2015 - 6:59 pm

      What an awesome way to remember it!!

      Reply
  30. joan avioli -  August 23, 2015 - 6:45 am

    A common distinction rarely understood

    Reply
    • John m edwards -  September 4, 2015 - 9:39 am

      bee the wax……of common sense interesy

      Reply
  31. Cedrick -  August 23, 2015 - 1:00 am

    i’m really thankful for enlightening me was confused about these ywo words “assume and presume”.now i’ve understood and have taken good note of it.thanks for the effort that you still showing through this app(Dictionary.com)

    Reply
    • Paco -  August 28, 2015 - 8:31 am

      I entirely disagree. Please respond.

      Reply
  32. Godwin Rath -  August 22, 2015 - 10:00 am

    Presumably, the difference in the meaning very subtly answered assuming, the obvious.

    Reply
  33. Ramakrishna -  August 21, 2015 - 5:55 pm

    Interested

    Reply
  34. Doug Matthews -  August 21, 2015 - 3:12 pm

    I just found this facet of ‘Word of the Day’. What fun! As a lover of words/language and amateur word craftsman, I so appreciate the pleasant find, ‘assuming’ that it won’t be the last from you people.

    Thanks,

    Dr. Doug

    Reply
  35. chapster -  August 21, 2015 - 1:31 pm

    If you were to assume something about me, you would make an ASS (of) U (and) ME.

    Reply
    • Emily -  September 1, 2015 - 1:54 pm

      Makes sense.

      Reply
  36. Bradley Garrett -  August 21, 2015 - 9:28 am

    Based on this article I presume that “assume” would or could be used to convey the (present) subjunctive tense while presume could be used in (present) indicative tense as in the sentence:
    I assume you were about to slip cyanide into my drink while adding the lemon, I presume it would definitely be a fatal dosage.
    Is that sentence correctly worded?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Slick -  September 1, 2015 - 5:49 am

      Bradley, your sentence was worded correctly, because your first clause was based upon no evidence. Your last clause was based upon some knowledge of cyanide having the ability to kill you. On another note, since you used technical English-tense phrases, I presume that you are quite knowledgeable in English. Yet, you put a comma between two independent sentences, where a semi-colon would have been the correct punctuation.

      Reply
      • Jim C. -  September 9, 2015 - 12:59 pm

        Bradley, I think you still get an A although minus, and Slick I will only give you a B as your thought was responsive and not independent thinking…:):)

        Jim, the very solid C- English student. (I am still trying to understand my Eng. Grammar; came her looking up meaning of infinitives of English for my Greek studies)
        All in fun, all in fun.

        TY both and all
        (I presume you will now tear up my grammar, or so I just assume so?)

        Reply
        • Jim C. -  September 9, 2015 - 1:00 pm

          I meant to say”do”, a typo in my last sentence.

          Reply
      • Andrew -  September 10, 2015 - 9:45 am

        Bradley asked if his statement was “correctly worded”. He did not ask if his punctuation was correct.

        Reply
  37. Craig K -  August 21, 2015 - 3:58 am

    Extremely thought provoking and well researched. Articles like this one allows a parent to address the age old question “why” with confidence and precision.Thank you for helping to clarify this and several other grammatical connundrums

    Reply
  38. Dr M.Asif Malik -  August 20, 2015 - 11:35 pm

    Hi I appreciate the difference made between two words conveying similar meaning

    Reply
  39. Haliee Dodson -  August 20, 2015 - 10:25 pm

    This is a weekly comment on different words. Please read each week! I love you.

    Reply
    • DNa_HuNter -  August 24, 2015 - 9:10 pm

      nice

      Reply
  40. Brian Spicer -  August 20, 2015 - 10:23 pm

    This is the weekly Word Fact email.

    Reply
  41. Andrei -  August 20, 2015 - 11:47 am

    ‘Certainity’ cannot have ‘degrees’. If you are certain, you are 100% sure. Are the words ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’ synonims? This article is not really helpful, if one starts to check the real and full meaning of the words. Nevertheless I enjoy these articles.

    Reply
    • Helen -  August 26, 2015 - 6:40 pm

      Degrees of certainty = uncertain, fairly certain, very certain, certain. Similar to degrees of confidence, of happiness, etc.

      Reply
    • Rich -  August 31, 2015 - 4:05 pm

      *synonyms
      I presume you have never won a spelling bee.

      Reply
  42. L.E.O. Watson -  August 20, 2015 - 11:09 am

    That was very informative! Now I really know the difference between presume & assume. THANKS

    Reply
  43. Harvey Wachtel -  August 20, 2015 - 9:00 am

    So how does “presumptuous” get its negative connotation of arrogance? Is that part of “presume”, or does it inhere only in the adjective?

    Reply
  44. Steve -  August 20, 2015 - 8:10 am

    Had NO idea of which to use when. Very useful a d informative!

    Reply
  45. Benjamin Suarez Jr. -  August 20, 2015 - 6:34 am

    Dr. Livingstone, I “presumed” that you were alive and well when I encountered a native and told me
    about a singular white man in the area….I “assume” you are the only one until today….

    Reply
  46. Esther -  August 20, 2015 - 6:32 am

    Now I can presume more often.. Haha

    Reply
  47. andwhataboutthatone -  August 20, 2015 - 12:16 am

    I’m going to assume that the word “presume” is tied to the word “presumptuous” which usually carries a negative connotation, however there is no such word as “assumptuous” which is odd. But I can change that.

    Henceforth I coin the word “assumptuous” and it shall mean:

    adj: Describing one who assumes too much.

    Reply
    • LindaK -  August 31, 2015 - 2:07 pm

      Love the word “assumptuous.” I will definitely be using it!

      Reply
    • ekoh -  September 13, 2015 - 2:05 pm

      Yes. ‘Assumptuous’ was needed; I second your proposition. This term could, through popular usage and time, replace the word ‘presumptuous’ in taking on its pejorative load.
      Many words have more than one definition, but sometimes they also have a life of their own, which isn’t necessarily aligned with what their definition commonly implies. ‘Assumption’, for instance, has a reputation to be the ‘Mother of all F…Ups’, however, let’s not neglect its useful, playful and creative aspects.
      In the fields of scientific research, detective investigation, role-playing, art and fiction or professional problem-solving, ‘to assume’ has a dynamic and creative brainstorming function: it provides a field of flexibility to think outside the box, allowing ‘what-ifs’ to fly around the room, unfettered by the rigidity of the known; assumption can be a playground for imagination to run wild and out of the mind’s rut. It is like scientific experiments conducted in the zero-gravity field of outer space.

      Yes, in some cases, to ‘assume’ is to ‘make an ass of u and me’, but keep in mind that humanity has edified its various so-called civilizations upon the pillars of assumption, and is mostly oblivious to how much it relies on assumptions on an everyday basis! Let’s look at three of these pillars: religion, science and politics.
      The three largest organized religions in the world are based upon assumptions of gods, miracles and promises to be fulfilled in the after-life. Under the umbrellas of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism we find the greater share of the human population!

      Up until the rise of quantum physics, assumptions were the norm in science, used as place-holders for yet-to-be-discovered elements in numerous theories, and too often left there, where they would discretely acquire a more comfortable and long term residency!

      When comes the season to vote for political candidates, who has the time, between work, family life, entertainment and ongoing commitments to be deeply informed, to investigate and analyze the protagonists, the political entanglement and the electoral promises objectively? An enlightened vote is a wishful thinking at best, thus the human society is founded upon, and continuously shaped by assumptions!

      It is a thin line between assumption and presumption; the former tending more toward belief, and the latter more toward deduction, but the difference is a matter of degree, not of quality. Someone can make an assumption which rests on strong intuitive but subconscious clues, of which even the author is unaware, whereas somebody else could presume something based on poor deductive abilities, but with the thinking they have considered enough factors.

      In any case, Assumption and Presumption are both speculative, very difficult to really tell apart, and both can be damaging when given and taken seriously.

      Reply
    • Jeff Sanborn -  September 15, 2015 - 1:31 pm

      Excellent!

      Reply
  48. Kxyz -  August 19, 2015 - 5:57 pm

    I presume that dictionary.com assumed that people mistake “presume” and “assume” daily. I need to check that out.

    Reply
    • clemintine -  September 15, 2015 - 11:37 am

      I think that they can both be used as words presume and assumed they both work.

      Reply

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