Open main menu

Wiktionary β



Wikipedia has an article on:

Alternative formsEdit


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).



promise (countable and uncountable, plural promises)

  1. (countable) An oath or affirmation; a vow.
    if I make a promise, I always stick to it;  he broke his promise
  2. (countable) 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.
    • 1668 July 3rd, James Dalrymple, “Thomas Rue contra Andrew Houſtoun” in The Deciſions of the Lords of Council & Seſſion I (Edinburgh, 1683), pages 547–548
      He purſued Andrew Houſtoun upon his promiſe, to give him the like Sallary for the next year, and in abſence obtained him to be holden as confeſt and Decerned.
  3. (uncountable) Reason to expect improvement or success; potential.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Washington Irving
      My native country was full of youthful promise.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 1, in The China Governess[1]:
      The original family who had begun to build a palace to rival Nonesuch had died out before they had put up little more than the gateway, so that the actual structure which had come down to posterity retained the secret magic of a promise rather than the overpowering splendour of a great architectural achievement.
    She shows great promise as an actress.
  4. (countable, computing, programming) A placeholder object that can be manipulated in code before it has been assigned a value.
  5. (countable, obsolete) Bestowal or fulfillment of what is promised.
    • Bible, Acts i. 4
      He [] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


promise (third-person singular simple present promises, present participle promising, simple past and past participle promised)

  1. (transitive) To commit to something or action; to make an oath; make a vow.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
      Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. [] Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster. Clever financial ploys are what have made billionaires of the industry’s veterans. “Operational improvement” in a portfolio company has often meant little more than promising colossal bonuses to sitting chief executives if they meet ambitious growth targets. That model is still prevalent today.
    If you promise not to tell anyone, I will let you have this cake for free.
    He promised to never return to this town again.
    She promised me a big kiss if I would drive her to the airport.
    I can't promise success, but I'll do the best I can.
  2. (intransitive) To give grounds for expectation, especially of something good.
    The clouds promise rain.
    • 1897, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity[2]:
      I liked the man for his own sake, and even had he promised to turn out a celebrity it would have had no weight with me. I look upon notoriety with the same indifference as on the buttons on a man's shirt-front, or the crest on his note-paper.

Usage notesEdit



Related termsEdit

See alsoEdit


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: sake · justice · offer · #909: promise · obliged · ourselves · pale

Further readingEdit





  1. feminine singular of the past participle of promettre





promise (past promised, active participle promisent, passive participle promiset)

  1. to promise






  1. feminine plural form of promis
  2. neuter plural form of promis



  1. third-person singular simple perfect form of promite.