1 of 2


in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: a usually clearly formulated or planned intention : aim
the director's intent
: the act or fact of intending : purpose
especially : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act
admitted wounding him with intent
: the state of mind with which an act is done : volition


2 of 2


: directed with strained or eager attention : concentrated
: having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something or some end or purpose
intent on their work
intentness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for intent

intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain.

intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about.

announced his intention to marry

intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness.

the clear intent of the statute

purpose suggests a more settled determination.

being successful was her purpose in life

design implies a more carefully calculated plan.

the order of events came by accident, not design

aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing.

her aim was to raise film to an art form

end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such.

willing to use any means to achieve his end

object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need.

his constant object was the achievement of pleasure

objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable.

their objective is to seize the oil fields

goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship.

worked years to reach her goals

Examples of intent in a Sentence

Noun She thinks I'm trying to make things difficult for her, but that's not my intent. The intent of the law is to protect consumers. He was charged with assault with intent to kill. Adjective intent on finishing her sculpture in time for the group show he was so intent on his work that he didn't hear the dog bark
Recent Examples on the Web
By mandating strict guidelines for data protection, user control and transparency, companies can ensure individuals have the peace of mind of knowing that their personal information is safe from prying eyes and those with nefarious intent. Jeffrey Edell, Rolling Stone, 17 Apr. 2024 Love is about assuming positive intent and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, 17 Apr. 2024 In 2019, Johnson and his partner picked up a woman in New Mexico with the intent to transport her to Colorado, prosecutors said. Paloma Chavez, Sacramento Bee, 17 Apr. 2024 Schwartz, the defense attorney, argued the entire incident lasted less than two seconds, too short of a window for Gonzalez to form the intent required to validate a murder charge. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2024 Following the October 2022 trial and sentencing the following month, Brooks legally notified the court of his intent to appeal. Jim Riccioli, Journal Sentinel, 16 Apr. 2024 Search engines look at factors like geographic location and other terms in the search query to determine the user’s intent and provide the most relevant answer. Sridhar Ramaswamy, Fortune, 11 Apr. 2024 The companies said their pricing was based on demand patterns and not with any intent to discriminate. Lydia Depillis Lydia Depillis, New York Times, 6 Apr. 2024 And even as Netanyahu faces a slew of political headwinds, none of the members of that governing coalition, or of his own party, have indicated any serious intent of leaving the government and triggering its collapse. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, 5 Apr. 2024
So, unfortunately, is the Klan, which is intent on wresting control of the city from its people and putting it under white, capitalist authority. The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2024 At first, Hassan appears to be intent on killing Charly to get his revenge. Megan McCluskey, TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Harvey said prosecutors will show the jury secret communications between anti-fascists from San Diego and Los Angeles that prove the defendants were always intent on committing violence against peaceful, patriotic protestors. Will Carless, USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 Blackburn was intent on delivering that victory, exiting with a 3-0 lead. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, 31 Mar. 2024 As her fame grew, Holiday would face more than the prejudices of the day — federal and local government agencies were intent on diminishing her stature as a public figure. Paul Alexander, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2024 Those rewards are among the most generous in the industry, and signify that the company is intent on becoming a significant player in credit card sector as part of a larger push to offer a full suite of financial services, including retirement accounts. Bill Hardekopf, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Some see a reactionary nation intent on ignoring how large-scale immigration, particularly from North Africa, has enriched the country hosting the 33rd Summer Olympics of modern times. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, 26 Mar. 2024 After a hideous slaughter in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin is still intent on pointing the finger at Kyiv. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English entente, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin intentus, from Latin, act of stretching out, from intendere


Latin intentus, from past participle of intendere

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of intent was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near intent

Cite this Entry

“Intent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: purpose sense 1, intention
with intent to injure
: meaning entry 1 sense 1a
the intent of the law


2 of 2 adjective
: directed with strained or eager attention
an intent gaze
: having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something
: set on some end or purpose
intent on going
intently adverb
intentness noun

Legal Definition


in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: the act or fact of intending: as
: the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act

called also criminal intent

compare knowledge, mens rea, motive, negligence
: the purpose to commit a tortious act having consequences that the actor desires and believes or knows will occur
constructive intent
: intent that is inferred to exist (as from willfulness or recklessness) in relation to an act
criminal intent
general intent
: intent to perform an illegal act without the desire for further consequences or a precise result there was a general intent to assault but not to kill
specific intent
: intent to perform an illegal act with the knowledge or purpose that particular results will or may ensue assaulted him with specific intent to kill
transferred intent
: intent attributed to a person who intends to cause another harm when the harm is accidentally inflicted on an unintended victim
: a doctrine in tort and criminal law: a wrongdoer who causes harm to a person other than the one intended may nevertheless be held to have intended the harmful result
: the purpose of a document (as a contract or will)
: the aim or goal of a person in creating a document or taking an action
the court's attempt to fulfill the donor's intent
the intent of the contracting parties implied by their language
see also original intent

More from Merriam-Webster on intent

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