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

Example Sentences

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
Consumers spending habits are beginning to match their intent. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 23 Nov. 2022 The tight end-turned-wide receiver withdrew his name from the transfer portal Tuesday afternoon, less than a month after announcing his intent to transfer out of the program. Tom Green |, al, 22 Nov. 2022 But no, that is not our intent to take away your children. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, 20 Nov. 2022 Camille Joseph Chaisson, who was convicted of charges including larceny and attempted larceny in 1966 and two counts of larceny and one count of breaking and entering at night with the intent to commit a felony later that year. Matt Stout,, 18 Nov. 2022 Also in the news: Amid legal woes, Donald Trump has announced his intent to run for president in 2024. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2022 Workers went public with their intent to unionize in a letter to management on Oct. 4. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Nov. 2022 But our intent right now is to work on all the actual physical processes, activities, and products to decarbonize. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 16 Nov. 2022 The contradictory messages of this post by @supercoollibragirl—which has two million views—are the subject of debate among its more than 4,000 commenters who argue about its intent: Is the young woman humblebragging about her thinness? Breona Couloote, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 Nov. 2022
The Rosebud Sioux are intent on expanding the reservation’s herds as a reliable food source. Matthew Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Nov. 2022 The council members on the call may have been intent on protecting the interests of their constituents, but their personal interests appeared to take precedence. Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2022 The Rosebud Sioux are intent on expanding the reservation’s herds as a reliable food source. Matthew Brown, Fortune, 21 Nov. 2022 Removing fences that crisscross ranches there and opening them to bison is unlikely, but Rosebud Sioux are intent on expanding the reservation’s herds as a reliable food source. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Nov. 2022 The university is now intent on building back in order to strengthen itself, and downtown. Steven Litt, cleveland, 17 Nov. 2022 The firm has announced a $118 million factory near Atlanta, and is intent on hitting its goals of building 250 of its sleek Midnight aircraft by 2025—bringing a whole new twist to the ideal of flying the friendly skies. Basem Wasef, Robb Report, 17 Nov. 2022 From the beginning, the prosecution has been intent on presenting the Rhoden family massacre in full. The Enquirer, 14 Nov. 2022 Davis was also intent on giving him a rich home life, but without children. Penelope Green,, 13 Nov. 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.

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 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

intent 1 of 2


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


: 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
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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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