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
Beijing makes no secret of its intent to displace Washington as the motor that drives the world’s economies—or of its willingness to use subsidies, espionage, and coercion to achieve this end. Shannon K. O’Neil, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Whiting cast doubt on that story and said Davis likely went to the home with the intent to harm his mother. Alex Brizee, Idaho Statesman, 17 Feb. 2024 To defend itself, Cowles sent Thurman a letter on December 29, 2021, that notified Thurman of Cowles' intent to seek a dismissal of its lawsuit. Jay Adkisson, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 Gay characterized the film as a comedy of serious intent. Callum McLennan, Variety, 17 Feb. 2024 He was charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Bay City News Service, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2024 In the announcement, the FWS mentioned their development of a first-ever nationwide gray wolf recovery plan, signaling a federal intent to delist wolves elsewhere in their range in the future. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 15 Feb. 2024 While some curious mountain lions might observe humans from a distance, a lion that approaches deliberately displays aggressive intent. Craig Caudill, Field & Stream, 14 Feb. 2024 His job originally was to work alongside Miami native and coach Mario Cristobal and athletic director Dan Radakovich in a scouting-intensive capacity, overseeing all recruiting operations and building a department intent on acquiring top talent. Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald, 7 Feb. 2024
Coming off a challenging market cycle punctuated by economic headwinds and ongoing uncertainty, chemical industry leaders are intent on striking the most profitable balance between short term cost pressures and future growth from innovations. Susan Galer, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Other highlights are painstakingly intricate drawings and prints by Linn Meyers (abstract) and Ben Tolman (surrealistic), and Frank Stewart’s photo of jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal with an intent expression and his keyboard reflected in his glasses. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The initiative backers are plainly intent on riding generalized discontent with taxes to victory. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 Reynolds — who has guided the franchise from the start — Levy have been intent on making their July 26 release date in North America despite facing a lengthy production delay due to last year’s SAG-AFTRA strike. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Feb. 2024 This time, Lopez is turning the tables and seems intent on sharing every shred of their love while Affleck grudgingly follows along. Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 13 Feb. 2024 The paramilitary violence pitted the province’s Protestant majority, intent on remaining part of Britain, against a Catholic minority striving to reunite with Catholic Ireland. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Feb. 2024 Read More: Forensic Psychology: Crime, Investigation, and Advising The Investigation of Jack the Ripper Squads of police officers searched the streets of Whitechapel throughout the course of the investigation, intent on spotting any suspicious suspects. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 18 Jan. 2024 In today’s world, no country wants to find itself at the mercy of a single supplier of critical minerals and technologies—especially if that supplier is intent on weaponizing those dependencies. William J. Burns, Foreign Affairs, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

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 1 Mar. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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