Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow.
  • n. Something promised.
  • n. Indication of something favorable to come; expectation: a promise of spring in the air.
  • n. Indication of future excellence or success: a player of great promise.
  • transitive v. To commit oneself by a promise to do or give; pledge: left but promised to return.
  • transitive v. To afford a basis for expecting: thunderclouds that promise rain.
  • intransitive v. To make a declaration assuring that something will or will not be done.
  • intransitive v. To afford a basis for expectation: an enterprise that promises well.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An oath or affirmation; a vow.
  • n. A transaction between two persons whereby the first person undertakes in the future to render some service or gift to the second person or devotes something valuable now and here to his use.
  • v. To commit to something or action; to make an oath; make a vow.
  • v. To give grounds for expectation, especially of something good.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. In general, a declaration, written or verbal, made by one person to another, which binds the person who makes it to do, or to forbear to do, a specified act; a declaration which gives to the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.
  • adj. An engagement by one person to another, either in words or in writing, but properly not under seal, for the performance or nonperformance of some particular thing. The word promise is used to denote the mere engagement of a person, without regard to the consideration for it, or the corresponding duty of the party to whom it is made.
  • adj. That which causes hope, expectation, or assurance; especially, that which affords expectation of future distinction.
  • adj. Bestowal, fulfillment, or grant of what is promised.
  • transitive v. To engage to do, give, make, or to refrain from doing, giving, or making, or the like; to covenant; to engage
  • transitive v. To afford reason to expect; to cause hope or assurance of.
  • transitive v. To make declaration of or give assurance of, as some benefit to be conferred; to pledge or engage to bestow
  • intransitive v. To give assurance by a promise, or binding declaration.
  • intransitive v. To afford hopes or expectation; to give ground to expect good; rarely, to give reason to expect evil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A declaration in reference to the future, whether written or verbal, made by one person to another, purporting to assure the latter that the former will do or forbear from a specified act, or cause it to be done or refrained from; a declaration intended to give to the person to whom it is made assurance of his right to expect from the promisor the thing promised; especially, a declaration that something shall be done or given for the benefit of the promisee or another.
  • n. Ground or basis of expectation; earnest: pledge.
  • n. That which affords a ground or basis for hope or for expectation of future excellence or distinction: as, a youth of great promise.
  • n. That which is promised; fulfilment or grant of what is promised.
  • n. A promise made without seal, either orally or in writing, as distinguished from one made under seal, which is technically called a covenant.
  • n. Synonyms Assurance, Promise, Engagement, Pledge, Covenant. These words are arranged in the order of strength; it would be dishonorable to fail to keep what even the weakest of them expresses. The formality and solemnity of each are proportioned to its strength. A covenant is a mutual obligation; the others are not. Each of them may be either spoken or written, but the written is generally more formal, and may have greater legal obligation.
  • To make a promise of; engage to do, give, grant, or procure for some one; especially, to engage that some benefit shall be conferred.
  • To afford reason to expect: as, the year promises a good harvest; the clouds promise rain.
  • To assure.
  • To make as promisor; be the promisor in.
  • Synonyms To assure, engage, covenant. See the noun.
  • To assure one by a promise! or binding declaration.
  • To afford hopes or expectations; give ground for expecting satisfactory or agreeable results.
  • To stand sponsor.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make a promise or commitment
  • v. make a prediction about; tell in advance
  • n. a verbal commitment by one person to another agreeing to do (or not to do) something in the future
  • n. grounds for feeling hopeful about the future
  • v. promise to undertake or give
  • v. give grounds for expectations

Etymologies

Middle English promis, from Old French promise, from Medieval Latin prōmissa, alteration of Latin prōmissum, from neuter past participle of prōmittere, to send forth, promise : prō-, forth; see pro-1 + mittere, to send.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English promis ("promis, promisse"), from Old French promesse, from Medieval Latin promissa, Latin promissum ("a promise"), feminine and neuter of Latin promissus, past participle of promittere ("to send or put forth, let go forward, say beforehand, promise"), from pro ("forth") + mittere ("to send"); see mission. Compare admit, commit, permit, etc. Displaced native Middle English beheste, bihest ("promise, behest") (from Old English behǣs ("promise, vow")), Middle English hight ("promise") (from Old English hēht, past tense of Old English hātan ("to promise")), Middle English hat, haut ("promise, vow") (from Old English ġehāt ("promise, vow")), Middle English quidde, quid ("saying, promise"). Compare Middle English forhaten, forhauten ("to promise"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "Then -- promise, _promise_ me, Constance, as if I were on my dying bed, that you never will."

    The Diamond Coterie

  • When I say "_I_ shall go" (_j'irai_), I merely express an _intention_ or _promise_ to go; but if I continue "_You_ and _they_ shall go," I convey the idea that _my_ intention or promise is operative on _you_ and _them_; and the terms which

    Notes and Queries, Number 188, June 4, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

  • If a man finds out something about his neighbour, and, after he has found it out for himself, the neighbour gets him to promise not to publish it, that is a secret of _promise_.

    Moral Philosophy

  • My packing list would probably be quite useless now, as it is constantly under revision, and I will probably end up taking too much stuff I don't need (because of my stubborn refusal to actually follow anyone's advice, no matter how many times I hear it - though I promise *promise* to only take one pair of jeans) and will inevitably not take something that will sorely be missed (because of lack of space/available weight, or again because I don't listen).

    A Week And A Day

  • He knew the Lord's promise, and that the time for its fulfilment was at hand; yet so far from regarding either the immutability of the Divine _purpose_, or even the infallible certainty of the Divine _promise_, as a reason for neglecting prayer, as if that exercise were superfluous or vain, he was stimulated and encouraged to pray just because "he knew the word of the

    Modern Atheism under its forms of Pantheism, Materialism, Secularism, Development, and Natural Laws

  • Is sticky toffee pudding the perfect marriage of stodge and sweetness, or does the name promise more than the dish delivers?

    How to cook perfect sticky toffee pudding

  • Lifting the letter again, the word promise seemed to jump off the page at her.

    Water Song

  • The term promise in Holy Writ both in its nominal and verbal form embraces not only promises made by man to his fellowman, and by man to God in the form of vows (e.g. Deut., xxiii, 21-3), but also God's promises to man.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • The copy on the book not to mention the title promise a pretty unflinching look at Ayn Rand's ideas.

    Forbes.com: News

  • This form of words constitutes what we call a promise, which is the sanction of the interested commerce of mankind.

    A Treatise of Human Nature

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