American English

Definition of promise verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they promise
    he / she / it promises
    past simple promised
    -ing form promising
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to tell someone that you will definitely do or not do something, or that something will definitely happen promise (to do something) The college principal promised to look into the matter. “Promise not to tell anyone!” “I promise.” They arrived at 7:30 as they had promised. promise something The government has promised a full investigation into the disaster. I'll see what I can do but I can't promise anything. promise (that)… The brochure promised (that) the local food would be excellent. promise somebody (that)… You promised me (that) you'd be home early tonight. promise something to somebody He promised the money to his grandchildren. promise somebody something He promised his grandchildren the money. promise yourself something I've promised myself some fun when the exams are over. promise (somebody) + speech “I'll be back soon,” she promised.
  2. 2[transitive] to make something seem likely to happen; to show signs of something it promises to be something It promises to be an exciting few days. promise something There were dark clouds overhead promising rain.
  3. Idioms
    I (can) promise you (informal)
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    used as a way of encouraging or warning someone about something I can promise you, you'll have a wonderful time. If you don't take my advice, you'll regret it, I promise you.
    a lick and a promise (informal)
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    the act of performing a task quickly and carelessly, especially of washing or cleaning something quickly
    promise (somebody) the earth/moon/world (informal)
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    to make promises that will be impossible to keep Politicians promise the earth before an election, but things are different afterward.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: promise