in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: what one intends to do or bring about
: the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
intentions plural : purpose with respect to marriage
: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds
: concept
especially : a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge
Choose the Right Synonym for intention

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 intention in a Sentence

She announced her intention to run for governor. He seemed to think that I was trying to cause problems, but that was never my intention. He bought a dog with the intention of training it to attack intruders. He has good intentions, but his suggestions aren't really helpful.
Recent Examples on the Web Crusius rampaged through the Walmart in El Paso, which sits along the US-Mexico border, with the sole intention of killing Mexican people and immigrants, authorities have said. Ashley Killough, CNN, 25 Sep. 2023 Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher both recently announced intentions to bring their talk shows back without writers, but both backtracked on those plans. Evan Minsker, Pitchfork, 25 Sep. 2023 In the middle of the day, write down a joint romantic intention on a piece of paper with your significant other. Lisa Stardust, Vogue, 23 Sep. 2023 Here’s Meta’s explanation for the changes from a Wednesday blog post: Our intention was to create a refreshed design of the Facebook logo that was bolder, electric and everlasting. Jay Peters, The Verge, 20 Sep. 2023 Last month, the Town of Mount Pleasant approved a resolution announcing its intention to investigate claims of disenfranchisement. Grace Ashford, New York Times, 19 Sep. 2023 The Washington Post interviewed Jews about their intentions for Tashlich 2023 (or 5784 on the Hebrew calendar, starting this past weekend), and rabbis about the history and meanings and various expressions of the ritual. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2023 Asked if the team would keep an open mind about one day sharing space with the Revolution should that team follow through on its intention to build a soccer-specific stadium in or near Boston, Epstein was noncommittal. Michael Silverman,, 18 Sep. 2023 Redesigns have been guided by the era’s original intention to have inviting, flowing spaces connecting to nature. Jeastman, oregonlive, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of intention was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near intention

Cite this Entry

“Intention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: a determination to act in a certain way
: an intended goal : aim
: a person or purpose that is especially prayed for

Medical Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: a determination to act in a certain way
: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds see first intention, second intention

Legal Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: something intended : intent
the intention of the testator

Note: Intent is more commonly used than intention when speaking technically especially about the criminal and tort concepts of intent (senses 1a and 1b).

More from Merriam-Webster on intention

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