in·​tent | \ in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio) \

Definition of intent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually clearly formulated or planned intention : aim the director's intent
2a : the act or fact of intending : purpose especially : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act admitted wounding him with intent
b : the state of mind with which an act is done : volition



Definition of intent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : directed with strained or eager attention : concentrated
2 : having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something or some end or purpose intent on their work

Other Words from intent


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: Noun The majority said the law does not require a showing of intent to harass. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 May 2022 To some, the appointment of a high-ranking police officer to a key government office was a statement of intent. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 7 May 2022 Minnesota and Puerto Rico have also reportedly sent letters of intent. Adam Brewster, Jacob Rosen, CBS News, 6 May 2022 Both parents and teachers point to the schools’ Burmese-language instruction as evidence of intent to return. New York Times, 2 May 2022 In the filing, the lawyers claimed this statement invited the jury to apply strict liability, a standard of liability that means the defendant could be responsible for the consequences of an action even in the absence of criminal intent. Bynadine El-bawab, ABC News, 26 Apr. 2022 The notice of intent, which lasts until Tuesday, was enough to push the yield below the cap without any actual purchases Thursday. Megumi Fujikawa, WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 Regardless of intent, the impact is the same - the same group of people continuously excluded, over and over again. Sheree Atcheson, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 Regardless of intent, the resulting works are strange, quotidian reports shot through with deep fears about the surrounding tragedies. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, 15 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Alongside Stokes, an innately aggressive player and firebrand, McCullum will be intent on shaking England from their lethargy which afflicted them too often in recent years. Tristan Lavalette, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Angela is intent on having her pregnancy terminated, which was unlawful in the U.K. until 1968. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 11 May 2022 Moscow falsely insists that Ukraine’s leadership is riddled with neo-Nazis — even though Zelensky is Jewish — who are intent on cleansing the country of ethnic Russians, particularly in the eastern region of Donbas. Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 Biden and his administration seem eager to reverse the decline in union membership and union power, all while many Republicans are clearly intent on hastening labor’s decline. Steven Greenhouse, The New Republic, 6 May 2022 The backing of tech titans such as Benioff, a friend of Musk’s and a Tesla board member, solidifies the idea that Musk is intent on making Twitter more profitable. Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2022 The long answer was that film might capture only version of a piece of choreography, including any mistakes the dancers made; notation, on the other hand, was dispassionate and specific and true to the choreographer’s intent. Neil Genzlinger,, 16 Apr. 2022 The Detroit institution was not only charting its course for the future with an ambitious expansion plan, but was also intent on fortifying its crown jewel: the historic Hitsville house. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 1 May 2022 Seemingly unable to take control of the rail network, Russia instead now appears to be intent on trying to disable it. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 28 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of intent


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intent


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

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Time Traveler for intent

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for intent


in·​tent | \ in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio) \

Kids Definition of intent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : what someone plans to do or accomplish : purpose Upsetting her was not my intent.
2 : meaning sense 2 What is the author's intent?



Kids Definition of intent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : showing concentration or great attention an intent gaze
2 : showing great determination They were intent on going.

Other Words from intent

intently adverb I listened intently.


in·​tent | \ in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio) \

Legal Definition of intent

1 : the act or fact of intending: as
a : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act

called also criminal intent

— compare knowledge, mens rea, motive, negligence
b : 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
1 : intent attributed to a person who intends to cause another harm when the harm is accidentally inflicted on an unintended victim
2 : 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
2a : intendment — see also legislative intent
b : the purpose of a document (as a contract or will)
c : 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
with intent
: with the intent to commit another sometimes specified crime entered the apartment with intent to commit theft therein a drug dealer charged with possession with intent

More from Merriam-Webster on intent

Nglish: Translation of intent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intent for Arabic Speakers


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