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A written or oral declaration given in exchange for something of value that binds the maker to do, or forbear from, a certain specific act and gives to the person to whom the declaration is made the right to expect and enforce performance or forbearance. An undertaking that something will or will not occur. It is a manifestation of intent to act, or refrain from acting, in a certain manner.

In the law of Commercial Paper, an undertaking to pay. It must be more than an acknowledgment of an obligation.

The person who makes the declaration is the promisor. The person to whom the declaration is made is called the promisee.

In contracts, a promise is essential to a binding legal agreement and is given in exchange for consideration, which is the inducement to enter into a promise. A promise is illusory when the promisor does not bind herself to do anything and, therefore, furnishes no consideration for a valid contract.

A promise implied in fact is a tacit promise that can be inferred from expressions or acts of the promisor. A promise implied by law can arise when no express declaration is made, but the party, in Equity and justice, is under a legal duty as if he had in fact actually made a promise.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1) n. a firm agreement to perform an act, refrain from acting, or make a payment or delivery. In contract law, if the parties exchange promises, each promise is "consideration" (a valuable item) for the other promise. Failure to fulfill a promise in a contract is a breach of the contract, for which the other party may sue for performance and/or damages. 2) v. to make a firm agreement to act, refrain from acting, or make a payment or delivery. (See: contract, consideration)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

PROMISE, contr. An engagement by which the promisor contracts towards another to perform or do something to the advantage of the latter.
     2. When a promise is reduced to the form of a written agreement under seal, it is called a covenant.
     3. In order to be binding on the promisor, the promise must be made upon a sufficient consideration -- when made without consideration, however, it may be binding in foro conscientice, it is not obligatory in law, being nudum pactum. Rutherf. Inst. 85; 18 Eng. C. L. Rep. 180, note a; Merl. Rep. h.t.
     4. When a promise is made, all that is said at the time, in relation to it, must be considered; if, therefore, a man promise to pay all he owes, accompanied by a denial that he owes anything, no action will lie to enforce such a promise. 15 Wend. 187.
     5. And when the promise is conditional, the condition must be performed before it becomes of binding force. 7 John. 36. Vide Condition. Promises are express or implied. Vide Undertaking, and 5 East, 17 2 Leon. 224, 5; 4 B. & A. 595.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
We seek to establish a bigger troth about the person.
Troth Wells has produced five food books and she traveled extensively throughout numerous countries while researching this book.
Troth is being recognized for saving the life of Jacob, a 5 year-old boy who had fallen through the ice on a lake.
(I wish I could count the times that, in my work, I have experienced this same thought and through the process of tests I was proven to be wrong.) Troth is an illusive thing to those who fail to look for it!
I hear from readers and soldiers all the time saying how much they appreciate our firm, committed and unwavering support, the magazines we send overseas and the "troth" we print here.
Many Canadians like to think so, but they are deluded: the hard troth is that the public life of Canada is now so morally debased that we no longer have a single party in Parliament that upholds either marriage, the natural family, or the sanctity of human life.
In a second section, older, less current lectures include Arthur Holmes's (Wheaton College) classic apologetic of the theocentric unity of troth and his case for a Christian college; Denton Lotz speaks of the arrogance of the West and the role that Christian colleges have in the conversion of the West and East; and Anthony Campolo describes "radical" Christian colleges that are intentional about their profession of the faith and are places whose graduates do not fit into the social system comfortably but who can bring about nonviolent social change.
But the idea behind the 98-cent price is to fool you into thinking that "it's less than 10 bucks." In troth, merchants would round down to $9.95, saving consumers billions of dollars over the next century.--William Safire [6/02/04]
Lewis, and NYSEDC chair Charles Gargano--broke ground for the future financial building, ceremonially dipping polished silver shovels into a troth of dirt in a gesture defiant to the terrorist threats and indicative of the city's resolve to remain a financial capital.
West began his intellectual expedition as a student of creation science (if that isn't an oxymoron) as part of an in-depth quest to mine the troth of Christianity.
Rationale und Irrationale Struktur (fur Ferdinand Hodler "Zur Warheit") (Rational and Irrational Structure [for Ferdinand Hodler "In Quest of Troth"]), 1991, makes this point decisively as well.