Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    Derived from Latin assumere, meaning to assume or undertake. In contracts, it is understood as an undertaking, either express or implied, to perform a parol agreement. At common law, it was divided into express and implied assumpsit, the former being an undertaking, made orally, by writing not under seal, or matter of record, to perform an act or to pay a sum of money to another; while an implied assumpsit was an undertaking presumed in law to have been made by a party from his conduct, although he had not made an express promise. The action of assumpsit was also divided into special assumpsit, or an action brought "on an express promise, and general assumpsit or an action brought on an implied contract. See Ann. Cas. 1913A, 471.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    Lat He undertook; he promised. A promise or engagement by which one person assumes or undertakes to do some act or pay something to another. It may be either oral or in writing, but is not under seal. It is express lf the promisor puis his engagement in distinct and definite language; it is implied where the law infers a promise (though no formal one has passed) from the conduct of the party or the circumstances of the case. In practice. A form of action which lies for the recovery of damages for the non-performance of a parol or simple contract; or a contract that is neither of record nor under seal. 7 Term, 351; Ballard v. Walker, 3 Johns. Cas. (N. Y.) 60. The ordinary division of this action is into
    (1) common or indebitatus assumpsit, brought for the most part on an implied promise; and
    (2) special assumpsit, founded on an express promise. Steph. Pi. 11, 13. The action of assumpsit differs from trespass and trover, which are founded on a tort, not upon a contract; from covenant and debt, which are appropriate where the ground of recovery is a sealed instrument, or special obligation to pay a fixed sum; and from replevin, which seeks the recovery of specific property, if attainable, rather than of damages.
    —Implied assumpsit. An undertaking or promise not formally made, but presumed or implied from the conduct of a party. Willen-borg v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 11 III. App. 3O2.
    — Special assumpsit. An action of assumpsit is so called where the declaration sets out the precise language or effect of a special contract, which forms the ground of action; as distinguished from a general assumpsit, in which the technical claim is for a debt alleged to grow out of the contract, not the agreement itself.