In the following question:

  • What's the premise of money?
  • What's the premise of email?
  • What's the premise of the book / movie?

Does the word 'premise' refer to the reason behind the existence of money, email, the book?

What I know is that premise refers to a part of an argument that leads to a conclusion:

  • Premise #1: All swans are white
  • Premise #2: Jill is a swan.
  • Conclusion: Jill is white.

When I am asking the 'premise of something', does it have the same meaning? What's the conclusion in case of money, email or book?


Premise has subtly different meanings in philosophy (where you have a list of premises and a conclusion, for instance), and in everyday use, where you talk about the premise of a film or book. Actually one academic I know pronounces them differently - PREM-iss for the everyday use, and prem-IZE for the philosophy use.

The premise of a work is the underlying principle of it, the starting point, the thing that makes that book, film, play, or argument go.

The premise of a concept, like money, is a similar idea - what is the fundamental point and underlying assumption of the idea of money?

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  • Can I think of it as the 'core idea' behind the existence of money, theory or a concept? Or, what makes a concept work? – user92131 Mar 16 '19 at 15:50
  • @user92131: Yes, it's kind of both of those. And some things can arguably have more than one premise (especially art - books, film etc), though I understand some critics say that makes for a bad creation. – SamBC Mar 16 '19 at 17:57

Premise definition:

an idea or theory on which a statement or action is based.


The conclusions you have drawn are based on a false premise.

We should work on the premise that this plan will be successful.

Could you explain the basic premise of your argument?

The research project is based on the premise stated earlier.

About your question:

  • What's the premise of money?

The meaning is close to the following:

  • What is the principle of money ?
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