Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

promise - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [intransitive/transitive]     promise pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlepromising
past tensepromised
past participlepromised
  1. 1
    to tell someone that you will definitely do something
    promise to do something:

    Peter wished he’d never promised to help them.

    promise someone (that):

    Promise me you’ll be home before dark.

    We always promised ourselves that we’d visit Hawaii one day.

    promise something to someone/promise someone something:

    Relief organizations are promising aid to the country.

    as promised (=in the way that had been promised):

    She phoned at 9 a.m., as promised.

    promise faithfully (=very strongly):

    Ellen promised faithfully not to open her present until her birthday.

  2. 2
    formal to make it seem likely that something will happen

    This evening promises to be a lot of fun.



to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play