Assume: ‘Take before’ /Presume: ‘Take towards’, 2 for 1, Read more:

Today I’m going to compare two words; recently my friend pointed out that I tend to say ‘assumedly’ where he would say ‘presumably’ and we got talking about what the real difference is. I’ll take them both in turn, so today is really a 2 for 1 on etymologies.

Presume’s current definition is to ‘suppose that something is the case on the basis of probability’, it comes from the old French (12th century) word ‘presumer’ which in turn comes from the Latin ‘praesumere’ meaning ‘to anticipate’. ‘Praesumere’ is made up of two Latin words; ‘prae’ meaning ‘before’ (from Proto-Indo-Eruropean meaning ‘beyond’) and ‘sumere’ meaning ‘take’.

Assume’s current definition is to ‘suppose to be without proof’ which comes from the Latin ‘adsumere’ with the ‘ad’ part meaning ‘towards’ (from proto-Indo-Eurpoean meaning ‘near’). Interestingly, assume was first used to mean ‘to suppose’ in the 1590s and before that it was actually used to mean ‘to take up’, as in the biblical assumption.

In technical terms; ‘assume expresses what the assumer postulates, often as a confessed hypothesis; presume expresses what the presumer really believes.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s