1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one: unkept political promises.
  2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based: promises that an enemy will not win.
  3. something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected.
  4. indication of future excellence or achievement: a writer who shows promise.
  5. something that is promised.

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

  1. to engage or undertake by promise (usually used with an infinitive or a clause as object): She promised to go tomorrow.
  2. to make a promise of (some specified act, gift, etc.): to promise help.
  3. to make a promise of something to (a specified person): Promise me that you will come.
  4. to afford ground for expecting: The sky promised a storm.
  5. to engage to join in marriage.
  6. to assure (used in emphatic declarations): I won’t go there again, I promise you that!

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

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


  1. (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
  2. (tr) to undertake to give (something to someone)he promised me a car for my birthday
  3. (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
  4. (usually passive) to engage to be married; betrothI’m promised to Bill
  5. (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


  1. 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
  2. indication of forthcoming excellence or goodnessa writer showing considerable promise
  3. the thing of which an assurance is given

n.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.” v.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). see lick and a promise.

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