Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



PRESCRIBE, v.t. [L. proescribo, to write before.]

1. In medicine, to direct, as a remedy to be used or applied to a diseased patient. Be not offended with the physician who prescribes harsh remedies.

2. To set or lay down authoritatively for direction; to give as a rule of conduct; as, to prescribe laws or rules.

There’s joy, when to wild will you laws prescribe.

3. To direct.

Let streams prescribe their fountains where to run.

PRESCRIBE, v.i. To write or give medical directions; to direct what remedies are to be used; as, to prescribe for a patient in a fever.

1. To give law; to influence arbitrarily.

A forwardness to prescribe to the opinions of others.

2. In law, to claim by prescription; to claim a title to a thing by immemorial use and enjoyment; with for. A man may be allowed to prescribe for a right of way, a common or the like; a man cannot prescribe for a castle; he can prescribe only for incorporeal hereditaments.

3. To influence by long use.

PRESCRIBED, pp. Directed; ordered.

PRESCRIBER, n. One that prescribes.

PRESCRIBING, ppr. Directing; giving as a rule of conduct or treatment.

PRESCRIPT, a. [L. proescriptus.] Directed; prescribed.

PRESCRIPT, n. [L. proescriptum.] A direction; a medical order for the use of medicines. [But prescription is chiefly used.]

1. Direction; precept; model prescribed.

PRESCRIPTIBLE, a. That may be prescribed for.

PRESCRIPTION, n. [L. proescriptio. See Prescribe.]

1. The act of prescribing or directing by rules; or that which is prescribed; particularly, a medical direction of remedies for a disease and the manner of using them; a recipe.

2. In law, prescribing for title; the claim of title to a thing by virtue of immemorial use and enjoyment; or the right to a thing derived from such use. Prescription differs from custom, which is a local usage. Prescription is a personal usage, usage annexed to the person. Nothing but incorporeal hereditaments can be claimed by prescription.

The use and enjoyment of navigation and fishery in the sea, for any length of time, does not create a title by prescription. The common right of nations to the use and enjoyment of the sea is imprescriptible; it cannot be lost by a particular nation for want of use.

3. In Scots law, the title to lands acquired by uninterrupted possession for the time which the law declares to be sufficient, or 40 years. This is positive prescription. Negative prescription is the loss or omission or a right by neglecting to use it during the time limited by law. This term is also used for limitation, in the recovery of money due by bond, etc. Obligations are lost by prescription, or neglect of prosecution for the time designated by law.

PRESCRIPTIVE, a. Consisting in or acquired by immemorial use and enjoyment; as a prescriptive right or title.

The right to be drowsy in protracted toil, has become prescriptive.

1. Pleading the continuance and authority of custom.

PRESEANCE, n. Priority of place in sitting. [Not in use.]

PRESENCE, n. s as z. [L. proesentia; proe, before, and esse, to be.] The existence of a person or thing in a certain place; opposed to absence. This event happened during the king’s presence at the theater. In examining the patient, the presence of fever was not observed. The presence of God is not limited to any place.

1. A being in company near or before the face of another. We were gratified with the presence of a person so much respected.

2. Approach face to face or nearness of a great personage.

Men that very presence fear,

Which once they knew authority did bear.

3. State of being in view; sight. An accident happened in the presence of the court.

4. By way of distinction, state of being in view of a superior.

I know not by what pow’r I am made bold,

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts.

5. A number assembled before a great person.

Odmar, of all this presence does contain,

Give her your wreath whom you esteem most fair.

6. Port; mien; air; personal appearance; demeanor.

Virtue is best in a body that is comely, and that has rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect.

A graceful presence bespeaks acceptance.

7. The apartment in which a prince shows himself to his court.

An’t please your grace, the two great cardinals.

Wait in the presence.

8. The person of a superior.

Presence of mind, a calm, collected state of the mind with its faculties at command; undisturbed state of the thoughts, which enables a person to speak or act without disorder or embarrassment in unexpected difficulties.

Errors, not to be recalled, do find

Their best redress from presence of the mind.

PRESENCE-CHAMBER, PRESENCE-ROOM, n. The room in which a great personage receives company.

PRESENSATION, n. [pre and sensation.] Previous notion or idea.

PRESENSION, n. [L. proesensio proesentio; proe and sentio, to perceive.] Previous perception. [Little used.]

PRESENT, a. s as z. [L. proesens; proe and sum, esse, to be.]

1. Being in a certain place; opposed to absent.

2. Being before the face or near; being in company. Inquire of some of the gentlemen present.

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. John 14:25.

3. Being now in view or under consideration. In the present instance, facts will not warrant the conclusion. The present question must be decided on different principles.

4. Now existing, or being at this time; not past or future; as the present session of congress. The court is in session at the present time. We say, a present good, the present year or age.

5. Ready at hand; quick in emergency; as present wit.

‘Tis a high point of philosophy and virtue for a man to be present to himself.

6. Favorably attentive; not heedless; propitious.

Nor could I hope in any place but there

To find a god so present to my prayer.

7. Not absent of mind; not abstracted; attentive.

The present, an elliptical expression for the present time.

At present, elliptically for, at the present time.

Present tense, in grammar, the tense or form of a verb which expresses action or being in the present time, as I am writing; or something that exists at all times, as virtue is always to be preferred to vice; or it expresses habits or general truths, as plants spring from the earth; fishes swim; reptiles creep; birds fly; some animals subsist on herbage, others are carnivorous.

PRESENT, n. That which is presented or given; a gift; a donative; something given or offered to another gratuitously; a word of general application. Genesis 32:13, 20-21.

Presents’ in the plural, is used in law for a deed of conveyance, a lease, letter of attorney or other writing; as in the phrase, “Know all men by these presents,” that is, by the writing itself, per presentes. In this sense, it is rarely used in the singular.

PRESENT, v.t. [Low L. proesento; L. proesens; proe, before, and sum, esse, to be.]

1. To set, place or introduce into the presence or before the face of a superior, as to present an envoy to the king; and with the reciprocal pronoun, to come into the presence of a superior.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. Job 1:6.

2. To exhibit to view or notice. The top of Mount Holyoke, in Hampshire county, in Massachusetts, presents one of the finest prospects in America.

3. To offer; to exhibit.

O hear what to my mind first thoughts present.

He is ever ready to present to us the thoughts or observations of others.

4. To give; to offer gratuitously for reception. The first President of the American Bible Society, presented to that institution ten thousand dollars.

5. To put into the hands of another in ceremony.

So ladies in romance assist their knight,

Present the spear, and arm him for the fight.

6. To favor with a gift; as, we present a man with a suit of clothes. Formerly the phrase was, to present a person.

Octavia presented the poet, for his admirable elegy on her son Marcellus.

[This use is obsolete.]

7. To nominate to an ecclesiastical benefice; to offer to the bishop or ordinary as a candidate for institution.

The patron of a church may present his clerk to a parsonage or vicarage; that is, may offer him to the bishop of the diocese to be instituted.

8. To offer.

He--presented battle to the French navy, which was refused.

9. To lay before a public body for consideration, as before a legislature, a court of judicature, a corporation, etc.; as, to present a memorial, petition, remonstrance or indictment.

10. To lay before a court of judicature as an object of inquiry; to give notice officially of a crime or offense. It is the duty of grand juries to present all breaches of law within their knowledge. In America, grand juries present whatever they think to be public injuries, by notifying them to the public with their censure.

11. To point a weapon, particularly some species of fire-arms; as, to present a musket to the breast of another; in manual exercise, to present arms.

12. To indict; a customary use of the word in the United Stats.

PRESENTABLE, a. That may be presented; that may be exhibited or represented.

1. That may be offered to a church living; as a presentable clerk.

2. That admits of the presentation of a clerk; as a church presentable. [Unusual.]

PRESENTANEOUS, a. [L. proesentaneus.] Ready; quick; immediate; as presentaneous poison.

PRESENTATION, n. The act of presenting.

Prayers are sometimes a presentation of mere desires.

1. Exhibition; representation; display; as the presentation of fighting on the stage.

2. In ecclesiastical law, the act of offering a clerk to the bishop or ordinary for institution in a benefice. An advowson is he right of presentation.

If the bishop admits the patron’s presentation, the clerk so admitted is next to be instituted by him.

3. The right of presenting a clerk. The patron has the presentation of the benefice.

PRESENTATIVE, a. In ecclesiastical affairs, that has the right of presentation, or offering a clerk to the bishop for institution. Advowsons are presentative, collative or donative.

An advowson presentative is where the patron hath a right of presentation to the bishop or ordinary.

1. That admits the presentation of a clerk; as a presentative parsonage.

PRESENTED, pp. Offered; given; exhibited to view; accused.

PRESENTEE, n. One presented to a benefice.

PRESENTER, n. One that presents.

PRESENTIAL, a. Supposing actual presence. [Little used.]

PRESENTIALITY, n. The state of being present. [Little used.]

PRESENTIATE, v.t. To make present. [Little used.]

PRESENTIFIC, PRESENTIFICAL, a. Making present. [Not in use.]

PRESENTIFICLY, adv. In such a manner as to make present. [Not in use.]

PRESENTIMENT, n. [pre and sentiment.] Previous conception, sentiment or opinion; previous apprehension of something future.

PRESENTLY, adv. s as z. At present; at this time.

The towns and forts you presently have.

1. In a short time after; soon after.

Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. Philippians 2:23.

And presently the fig-tree withered away. Matthew 21:19.

PRESENTMENT, n. s as z. The act of presenting.

1. Appearance to the view; representation.

2. In law, a presentment, properly speaking, is the notice taken by a grand jury of any offense from their own knowledge or observation, without any bill of indictment laid before them at the suit of the king; as the presentment of a nuisance, a libel or the like, on which the officer of the court must afterwards frame an indictment, before the party presented can be put to answer it.

3. In a more general sense, presentment comprehends inquisitions of office and indictments.

In the United States, a presentment is an official accusation presented to a tribunal by the grand jury in an indictment; or it is the act of offering an indictment. It is also used for the indictment itself. The grand jury are charged to inquire and due presentment make of all crimes, etc. The use of the word is limited to accusations by grand jurors.

4. The official notice in court which the jury or homage gives of the surrender of a copyhold estate.

PRESENTNESS, n. s as z. Presence; as presentness of mind. [Not used.]

PRESERVABLE, a. [See Preserve.] That may be preserved.

PRESERVATION, n. The act of preserving or keeping safe; the act of keeping from injury, destruction or decay; as the preservation of life or health; the preservation of buildings from fire or decay; the preservation of grain from insects; the preservation of fruit or plants. When a thing is kept entirely from decay, or nearly in its original state, we say it is in a high state of preservation.

PRESERVATIVE, a. Having the power or quality of keeping safe from injury, destruction or decay; tending to preserve.

PRESERVATIVE, n. That which preserves or has the power of preserving; something that tends to secure a person or thing in a sound state, or prevent if from injury, destruction, decay or corruption; a preventive of injury or decay. Persons formerly wore tablets of arsenic, as preservatives against the plague. Clothing is a preservative against cold. Temperance and exercise are the best preservatives of health. Habitual reverence of the Supreme Being is an excellent preservative against sin and the influence of evil examples.

PRESERVATORY, a. That tends to preserve.

PRESERVATORY, n. That which has the power of preserving; a preservative.

PRESERVE, v.t. prezerv’. [Low L. proeservo; proe and servo, to keep.]

1. To keep or save from injury or destruction; to defend from evil.

God did send me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:5.

O Lord, preserve me from the violent man. Psalm 140:1, 4.

2. To uphold; to sustain.

O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. Psalm 36:6.

3. To save from decay; to keep in a sound state; as, to preserve fruit in winter. Salt is used to preserve meat.

4. To season with sugar or other substances for preservation; as, to preserve plums, quinces or other fruit.

5. To keep or defend from corruption; as, to preserve youth from vice.

PRESERVE, n. preserv’. Fruit or a vegetable seasoned and kept in sugar or sirup.

PRESERVED, pp. Saved from injury, destruction or decay; kept or defended from evil; seasoned with sugar for preservation.

PRESERVER, n. The person or thing that preserves; one that saves or defends from destruction or evil.

What shall I do to thee, O thou preserver of men? Job 7:20.

1. One that makes preserves of fruits.

PRESERVING, ppr. Keeping safe from injury, destruction or decay; defending from evil.

PRESIDE, v.i. s as z. [L. proesideo; proe, before, and sedeo, to sit.]

1. To be set over for the exercise of authority; to direct, control and govern, as the chief officer. A man may preside over a nation or province; or he may preside over a senate, or a meeting of citizens. The word is used chiefly in the latter sense. We say, a man presides over the senate with dignity. Hence it usually denotes temporary superintendence and government.

2. To exercise superintendence; to watch over as inspector.

Some o’er the public magazines preside.

PRESIDENCY, n. Superintendence; inspection and care.

1. The office of president. Washington was elected to the presidency of the United States by a unanimous vote of the electors.

2. The term during which a president holds his office. President J. Adams died during the presidency of his son.

3. The jurisdiction of a president; as in the British dominions in the East Indies.

4. The family or suit of a president.

A worthy clergyman belonging to the presidency of Fort St. George.

PRESIDENT, n. [L. proesidens.]

1. An officer elected or appointed to preside over a corporation, company or assembly of men, to keep order, manage their concerns or govern their proceedings; as the president of a banking company; the president of a senate, etc.

2. An officer appointed or elected to govern a province or territory, or to administer the government of a nation. The president of the United States is the chief executive magistrate.

3. The chief officer of a college or university.

4. A tutelar power.

Just Apollo, president of verse.

Vice-president, one who is second in authority to the president. The vice-president of the United States is president of the senate ex officio, and performs the duties of president when the latter is removed or disabled.

PRESIDENTIAL, a. Pertaining to a president; as the presidential chair.

1. Presiding over.

PRESIDENTSHIP, n. The office and place of president.

1. The term for which a president holds his office.

PRESIDIAL, PRESIDIARY, a. [L. proesidium, a garrison; proe and sedeo.]

Pertaining to a garrison; having a garrison.

PRESIGNIFICATION, n. [from presignify.]

The act of signifying or showing beforehand.

PRESIGNIFY, v.t. [pre and signify.] To intimate or signify beforehand; to show previously.

PRESS, v.t. [L. pressus.]

1. To urge with force or weight; a word of extensive use, denoting the application of any power, physical or moral, to something that is to be moved or affected. We press the ground with the feet when we walk; we press the couch on which we repose; we press substances with the hands, fingers or arms; the smith presses iron with his vise; we are pressed with the weight of arguments or of cares, troubles and business.

2. To squeeze; to crush; as, to press grapes. Genesis 40:11.

3. To drive with violence; to hurry; as, to press a horse in motion, or in a race.

4. To urge; to enforce; to inculcate with earnestness; as, to press divine truth on an audience.

5. To embrace closely; to hug.

Leucothoe shook

And press’d Palemon closer in her arms.

6. To force into service, particularly into naval service; to impress.

7. To straiten; to distress; as, to be pressed with want or with difficulties.

8. To constrain; to compel; to urge by authority or necessity.

The posts that rode on mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. Esther 8:14.

9. To urge; to impose by importunity.

He pressed a letter upon me, within this hour, to deliver to you.

10. To urge or solicit with earnestness or importunity. He pressed me to accept of his offer.

11. To urge; to constrain.

Paul was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. Acts 18:5.

Wickedness pressed with conscience, forecasteth grievous things.

12. To squeeze for making smooth; as cloth or paper.

Press differs from drive and strike, in usually denoting a slow or continued application of force; whereas drive and strike denote a sudden impulse of force.

PRESS, v.i. To urge or strain in motion; to urge forward with force.

I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14.

Th’ insulting victor presses on the more.

1. To bear on with force; to encroach.

On superior powers

Were we to press, inferior might on ours.

2. To bear on with force; to crowd; to throng.

Thronging crowds press on you as you pass.

3. To approach unseasonably or importunately.

Nor press too near the throne.

4. To urge with vehemence and importunity.

He pressed upon them greatly, and they turned in to him. Genesis 19:3.

5. To urge by influence or moral force.

When arguments press equally in matters indifferent, the safest method is to give up ourselves to neither.

6. To push with force; as, to press against the door.


1. An instrument or machine by which any body is squeezed, crushed or forced into a more compact form; as a wine-press, cider-press or cheese-press.

2. A machine for printing; a printing-press. Great improvements have been lately made in the construction of presses.

3. The art or business of printing and publishing. A free press is a great blessing to a free people; a licentious press is a curse to society.

4. A crowd; a throng; a multitude of individuals crowded together.

And when they could not come nigh to him for the press-- Mark 2:4.

5. The act of urging or pushing forward.

Which in their throng and press to the last hold,

Confound themselves.

6. A wine-vat or cistern. Haggai 2:16.

7. A case of closet for the safe keeping of garments.

8. Urgency; urgent demands of affairs; as a press of business.

9. A commission to force men into public service, particularly into the navy; for impress.

Press of sail, in navigation, is as much sail as the state of the wind will permit.

Liberty of the press, in civil policy, is the free right of publishing books, pamphlets or papers without previous restraint; or the unrestrained right which every citizen enjoys of publishing his thoughts and opinions, subject only to punishment for publishing what is pernicious to morals or to the peace of the state.

PRESS-BED, n. A bed that may be raised and inclosed in a case.

PRESSED, pp. Urged by force or weight; constrained; distressed; crowded; embraced; made smooth and glossy by pressure, as cloth.

PRESSER, n. One that presses.

PRESS-GANG, n. [press and gang.] A detachment of seamen under the command of an officer, empowered to impress men into the naval service.

PRESSING, ppr. Urging with force or weight; squeezing; constraining; crowding; embracing; distressing; forcing into service; rolling in a press.

1. a. Urgent; distressing.

PRESSING, n. The act or operation of applying force to bodies. The pressing of cloth is performed by means of the screw, or by a calendar.

PRESSINGLY, adv. With force or urgency; closely.

PRESSION, n. The act of pressing. But pressure is more generally used.

1. In the Cartesian philosophy, an endeavor to move.

PRESSITANT, a. Gravitating; heavy. [Not in use.]

PRESSMAN, n. In printing, the man who manages the press and impresses the sheets.

1. One of a press-gang, who aids in forcing men into the naval service.

PRESS-MONEY, n. Money paid to a man impressed into public service. [See Prest-money.]

PRESSURE, n. [L. pressura.] The act of pressing or urging with force.

1. The act of squeezing or crushing. Wine is obtained by the pressure of grapes.

2. The state of being squeezed or crushed.

3. The force of one body acting on another by weight or the continued application of power. Pressure is occasioned by weight or gravity, by the motion of bodies, by the expansion of fluids, by elasticity, etc. Mutual pressure may be caused by the meeting of moving bodies, or by the motion of one body against another at rest, and the resistance or elastic force of the latter. The degree of pressure is in proportion to the weight of the pressing body, or to the power applied, or to the elastic force of resisting bodies. The screw is a most powerful instrument of pressure. The pressure of wind on the sails of a ship is in proportion to its velocity.

4. A constraining force or impulse; that which urges or compels the intellectual or moral faculties; as the pressure of motives on the mind, or of fear on the conscience.

5. That which afflicts the body or depresses the spirits; any severe affliction, distress, calamity or grievance; straits, difficulties, embarrassments, or the distress they occasion. We speak of the pressure of poverty or want, the pressure of debts, the pressure of taxes, the pressure of afflictions or sorrow.

My own and my people’s pressures are grievous.

To this consideration he retreats with comfort in all his pressures.

We observe that pressure is used both for trouble or calamity, and for the distress it produces.

6. Urgency; as the pressure of business.

7. Impression; stamp; character impressed.

All laws of books, all forms, all pressures past.

PREST, sometimes used for pressed. [See Press.]

PREST, a. [L. proesto, to stand before or forward; proe and sto.]

1. Ready; prompt.

2. Neat; tight.

PREST, n. A loan.

1. Formerly, a duty in money, to be paid by the sheriff on his account in the exchequer, or for money left or remaining in his hands.

PREST-MONEY, n. Money paid to men impressed into the service.

PRESTATION, n. [L. proestatio.] Formerly, a payment of money; sometimes used for purveyance.

PRESTATION-MONEY, n. A sum of money paid yearly by archdeacons and other dignitaries to their bishop, pro exteriore jurisdictione.

PRESTER, n. [Gr. to kindle or inflame.]

1. A meteor thrown from the clouds with such violence, that by collision it is set on fire.

2. The external part of the neck, which swells when a person is angry.

PRESTIGES, n. [L. proestigioe.] Juggling tricks; impostures.

PRESTIGIATION, n. [L. proestigioe, tricks.] The playing of legerdemain tricks; a juggling.

PRESTIGIATOR, n. A juggler; a cheat.

PRESTIGIATORY, a. Juggling; consisting of impostures.

PRESTIGIOUS, a. Practicing tricks; juggling.

PRESTIMONY, n. [L. proesto, to supply; proe and sto.] In canon law, a fund for the support of a priest, appropriated by the founder, but not erected into any title of benefice, and not subject to the pope or the ordinary, but of which the patron is the collator.

But in a Spanish Dictionary thus defined, “a prebend for the maintenance of poor clergymen, on condition of their saying prayers at certain stated times.

PRESTO, adv. [L. proesto.]

1. In music, a direction for a quick lively movement or performance.

2. Quickly; immediately; in haste.

PRESTRICTION, n. [L. proestringo, proestrictus.] Dimness.

PRESUMABLE, a. s as z. [from presume.] That may be presumed; that may be supposed to be true or entitled to belief, without examination or direct evidence, or on probable evidence.

PRESUMABLY, adv. By presuming or supposing something to be true, without direct proof.

PRESUME, v.t. s as z. [L. proesumo; proe, before, and sumo, to take.] To take or suppose to be true or entitled to belief, without examination or positive proof, or on the strength of probability. We presume that a man is honest, who has not been known to cheat or deceive; but in this we are sometimes mistaken. In many cases, the law presumes full payment where positive evidence of it cannot be produced.

We not only presume it may be so, but we actually find it so.

In cases of implied contracts, the law presumes that a man has covenanted or contracted to do what reason and justice dictate.

PRESUME, v.i. To venture without positive permission; as, we may presume too far.

1. To form confident or arrogant opinions; with on or upon, before the cause of confidence.

This man presumes upon his parts.

I will not presume so far upon myself.

2. To make confident or arrogant attempts.

In that we presume to see what is meet and convenient, better than God himself.

3. It has on or upon sometimes before the thing supposed.

Luther presumes upon the gift of continency.

It is sometimes followed by of, but improperly.

PRESUMED, pp. Supposed or taken to be true, or entitled to belief, without positive proof.

PRESUMER, n. One that presumes; also, an arrogant person.

PRESUMING, ppr. Taking as true, or supposing to be entitled to belief, on probable evidence.

1. a. Venturing without positive permission; too confident; arrogant; unreasonably bold.

PRESUMPTION, n. [L. proesumption.]

1. Supposition of the truth or real existence of something without direct or positive proof of the fact, but grounded on circumstantial or probable evidence which entitles it to belief. Presumption in law is of three sorts, violent or strong, probable, and light.

Next to positive proof, circumstantial evidence or the doctrine of presumptions must take place; for when the fact cannot be demonstratively evinced, that which comes nearest to the proof of the fact is the proof of such circumstances as either necessarily or usually attend such facts. These are called presumptions. Violent presumption is many times equal to full proof.

2. Strong probability; as in the common phrase, the presumption is that an event has taken place, or will take place.

3. Blind or headstrong confidence; unreasonable adventurousness; a venturing to undertake something without reasonable prospect of success, or against the usual probabilities of safety; presumptuousness.

Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath.

I had the presumption to dedicate to you a very unfinished price.

4. Arrogance. He had the presumption to attempt to dictate to the council.

5. Unreasonable confidence in divine favor.

The awe of his majesty will keep us from presumption.

PRESUMPTIVE, a. Taken by previous supposition; grounded on probable evidence.

1. Unreasonably confident; adventuring without reasonable ground to expect success; presumptuous; arrogant.

Presumptive evidence, in law, is that which is derived from circumstances which necessarily or usually attend a fact, as distinct from direct evidence or positive proof.

Presumptive evidence of felony should be cautiously admitted.

Presumptive heir, one who would inherit an estate if the ancestor should die with things in their present state, but whose right of inheritance may be defeated by the birth of a nearer heir before the death of the ancestor. Thus the presumptive succession of a brother or nephew may be destroyed by the birth of a child. Presumptive heir is distinguished from heir apparent, whose right of inheritance is indefeasible, provided he outlives the ancestor.

PRESUMPTIVELY, adv. By presumption, or supposition grounded on probability.


1. Bold and confident to excess; adventuring without reasonable ground of success; hazarding safety on too slight grounds; rash; applied to persons; as a presumptuous commander.

There is a class of presumptuous men whom age has not made cautious, nor adversity wise.

2. Founded on presumption; proceeding from excess of confidence; applied to things; as presumptuous hope.

3. Arrogant; insolent; as a presumptuous priest.

Presumptuous pride.

4. Unduly confident; irreverent with respect to sacred things.

5. Willful; done with bold design, rash confidence or in violation of known duty; as a presumptuous sin.

PRESUMPTUOUSLY, adv. With rash confidence.

1. Arrogantly; insolently.

2. Willfully; in bold defiance of conscience or violation of known duty; as, to sin presumptuously. Numbers 15:30.

3. With groundless and vain confidence in the divine favor.

PRESUMPTUOUSNESS, n. The quality of being presumptuous or rashly confident; groundless confidence; arrogance; irreverent boldness or forwardness.

PRESUPPOSAL, n. presuppo’zal. [pre and supposal.]

Supposal previously formed; presupposition.

PRESUPPOSE, v.t. presuppo’ze. [Eng. pre and suppose.] To suppose as previous; to imply as antecedent. The existence of created things presupposes the existence of a Creator.

Each kind of knowledge presupposes many necessary things learned in other sciences and known beforehand.

PRESUPPOSED, pp. Supposed to be antecedent.

PRESUPPOSING, ppr. Supposing to be previous.

PRESUPPOSITION, n. Supposition previously formed.

1. Supposition of something antecedent.

PRESURMISE, n. presurmi’ze. [pre and surmise.]

A surmise previously formed.

PRETEND, v.t. [L. proetendo; proe, before, and tendo, to tend, to reach or stretch.]

1. Literally, to reach or stretch forward; used by Dryden, but this use is not well authorized.

2. To hold out, as a false appearance; to offer something feigned instead of that which is real; to simulate, in words or actions.

This let him know,

Lest willfully transgressing, he pretend


3. To show hypocritically; as, to pretend great zeal when the heart is not engaged; to pretend patriotism for the sake of gaining popular applause or obtaining an office.

4. To exhibit as a cover for something hidden.

Lest that too heavenly form, pretended

To hellish falsehood, snare them. [Not in use.]

5. To claim.

Chiefs shall be grudg’d the part which they pretend.

[In this we generally use pretend to.]

6. To intend; to design. [Not used.]

PRETEND, v.t. To put in a claim, truly or falsely; to hold out the appearance of being, possessing or performing. A man may pretend to be a physician, and pretend to perform great cures. Bad men often pretend to be patriots.

PRETENDED, pp. Held out, as a false appearance; feigned; simulated.

1. a. Ostensible; hypocritical; as a pretended reason or motive; pretended zeal.

PRETENDEDLY, adv. By false appearance or representation.

PRETENDER, n. One who makes a show of something not real; one who lays claim to any thing.

1. In English history, the heir of the royal family of Stuart, who lays claim to the crown of Great Britain, but is excluded by law.

PRETENDERSHIP, n. The right or claim of the Pretender.

PRETENDING, ppr. Holding out a false appearance; laying claim to, or attempting to make others believe one is what in truth he is not, or that he has or does something which he has or does not; making hypocritical professions.

PRETENDINGLY, adv. Arrogantly; presumptuously.

PRETENSE, n. pretens’. [L. proetensus, proetendo.]

1. A holding out or offering to others something false or feigned; a presenting to others, either in words or actions, a false or hypocritical appearance, usually with a view to conceal what is real, and thus to deceive. Under pretense of giving liberty to nations, the prince conquered and enslaved them. Under pretense of patriotism, ambitious men serve their own selfish purposes.

Let not Trojans, with a feigned pretense

Of proffer’d peace, delude the Latian prince.

It is sometimes preceded by on; as on pretense of revenging Caesar’s death.

2. Assumption; claim to notice.

Never was any thing of this pretense more ingeniously imparted.

3. Claim, true or false.

Primogeniture cannot have any pretense to a right of solely inheriting property or power.

4. Something held out to terrify or for other purpose; as a pretense of danger.

PRETENSED, a. Pretended; feigned; as a pretensed right to land. [Little used.]


1. Claim, true or false; a holding out the appearance of right or possession of a thing, with a view to make others believe what is not real, or what, if true, is not yet known or admitted. A man may make pretensions to rights which he cannot maintain; he may make pretensions to skill which he does not possess; and he may make pretensions to skill or acquirements which he really possesses, but which he is not known to possess. Hence we speak of ill founded pretensions, and well founded pretensions.

2. Claim to something to be obtained, or a desire to obtain something, manifested by words or actions. Any citizen may have pretensions to the honor of representing the state in the senate or house of representatives.

The commons demand that the consulship should lie in common to the pretensions of any Roman.

Men indulge those opinions and practices that favor their pretensions.

3. Fictitious appearance; a Latin phrase, not now used.

This was but an invention and pretension given out by the Spaniards.

PRETENTATIVE, a. [L. proe and tento, to try.]

That may be previously tried or attempted. [Little used.]

PRETER, a Latin preposition, [proeter,] is used in some English words as a prefix. Its proper signification is beyond, hence beside, more.