purpose

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

Definition of purpose

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : intention
2 : a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution
on purpose
: by intent : intentionally

purpose

verb
purposed; purposing

Definition of purpose (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to propose as an aim to oneself

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Synonyms for purpose

Synonyms: Noun

aim, ambition, aspiration, bourne (also bourn), design, dream, end, goal, idea, ideal, intent, intention, mark, meaning, object, objective, plan, point, pretension, target, thing

Synonyms: Verb

aim, allow [chiefly Southern & Midland], aspire, calculate, contemplate, design, go [chiefly Southern & Midland], intend, look, mean, meditate, plan, propose, purport

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Choose the Right Synonym for purpose

Noun

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 purpose in a Sentence

Noun

Shocking as it is, more than a month after the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still, for all practical purposes, a ghost town. — Tom Piazza, Why New Orleans Matters, 2005 By the time … American aid began pouring in, to all intents and purposes the war had already been lost. — Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, 1993 But wartime wage and price controls prevented companies from competing for the available talent by means of increased salaries. They had to compete with fringe benefits instead, and free health insurance was tailor-made for this purpose. — John Steele Gordon, American Heritage, May - June 1992 His purpose is to realize himself, to live the fullest possible life, and he is responsible for this, like all men, regardless of how society treats him. — Shelby Steele, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 1990 The purpose of the new resort is to attract more tourists. The loans are small but they serve a good purpose. Sometimes his life seemed to lack purpose or meaning. We started work again with a renewed sense of purpose.

Verb

I have not purposed to misrepresent this boy in any way, for what little indignation he excited in me soon passed and left nothing behind it but compassion. — Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, 1880 The child then explained that they had left the races on the first day, and were travelling to the next town on that road, where they purposed to spend the night. — Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, 1841 I've been purposing to fix that thing for some time now.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

So much for enjoying the, uh, real purpose of the honeymoon, because Pratt is probably in a world of pain right now. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "Chris Pratt Reveals A Horrifying — & Naked — Honeymoon Photo," 30 June 2019 Football in Soviet Russia at the time served many purposes, as a tool for the Communist regime to assert their control over civilians, as a diplomatic tool, and also as an outlet for small acts of defiance. SI.com, "Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 Formation & the Inventor of Pressing," 28 June 2019 Castro had a bigger purpose, however, than denouncing an arcane piece of a 95-year-old law. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Castro’s discipline pays off on the big stage," 28 June 2019 The purpose of the group will be to connect with other parents, share ideas and support one another. courant.com, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 28 June 2019 For our players, there’s only one purpose, one mission here. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Megan Rapinoe doesn't back down to anyone, President Trump included," 27 June 2019 For all intents and purposes, the instruments onboard Dragonfly are not terribly dissimilar from those on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Shannon Stirone, Scientific American, "New NASA Mission Will Fly Titan’s Frigid Skies to Search for Life’s Beginnings," 27 June 2019 So has the use of psychoactive medications for behavioral control, not therapeutic, purposes, as in the case of foster children receiving high doses of psychiatric medications. S.e. Smith, Vox, "Meet the people fighting for health care access for disabled kids detained at the border," 26 June 2019 For anyone traveling to New Orleans for the party with a purpose next week, be prepared to be consumed with excitement. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "9 Pretty Polishes To Paint On This Summer," 26 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hair clippings, excess chemicals, foil strips, and food containers are sent to Green Circle Salons, to be re-purposed or recycled. Kirk Sides, Houston Chronicle, "League City salon's eco-friendly business makes people and Earth beautiful," 3 June 2019 HOME Fresh is one piece, made from recycled plastic that’s been re-purposed into polyester yarn. Matthew Townsend / Bloomberg, Time, "'Big Carpet' Is Betting This New Floor Covering Will Get Americans to End Their Love of Hardwood," 6 June 2019 And there’s no doubt that Ali’s involvement in theater has now given others purpose and courage as well. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Ali Stroker on "Oklahoma!" and Bringing Disability Representation to Another Iconic Musical," 6 Aug. 2018 Lambert said Life Remodeled works at the Durfee Innovation Society, which was re-purposed from the old Durfee Elementary School building. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Free outdoor yoga at Cobo Center benefits charity," 6 July 2018 Those could include re-purposing 18 certified law enforcement officers already hired by the district or paying cops overtime pay. Colleen Wright, miamiherald, "With little time and cash, Broward to hire armed guards instead of police at schools," 27 June 2018 His supporters — many of whom came with their families — drank beer and ate bar snacks in the large Union Jack’s pub, where pool tables were re-purposed to hold cheese plates. Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, "As Democrats stump, Hogan kicks off reelection campaign," 9 June 2018 Features occasionally look familiar, as if plucked from collective consciousness and re-purposed as portals to an individual soul. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "Like song sampling as painting: Nathaniel Mary Quinn's puzzle-like portraits of personhood," 6 June 2018 Today this set of sturdy structures, built in the early years of the last century, is being re-purposed and renamed Highland Forge. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, "Jacques Kelly: Constructing a new future from Haven Street's industrial past," 26 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of purpose

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for purpose

Noun and Verb

Middle English purpos, from Anglo-French, from purposer to intend, propose, from Latin proponere (perfect indicative proposui) to propose — more at propound

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Statistics for purpose

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for purpose

The first known use of purpose was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for purpose

purpose

noun

English Language Learners Definition of purpose

: the reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something
: the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something
: the aim or goal of a person : what a person is trying to do, become, etc.

purpose

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

Kids Definition of purpose

: something set up as a goal to be achieved : intention, aim “… my purpose in writing this brief note is to suggest that we meet.”— E. B. White, Stuart Little
on purpose

purpose

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

Legal Definition of purpose

: an objective, effect, or result aimed at or attained specifically : the business activity in which a corporation is chartered to engage

Other Words from purpose

purposeful \ -​fəl How to pronounce purposeful (audio) \ adjective
purposefully adverb
purposefulness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on purpose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purpose

Spanish Central: Translation of purpose

Nglish: Translation of purpose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purpose for Arabic Speakers

Comments on purpose

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