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pur·​port (ˌ)pər-ˈpȯrt How to pronounce purport (audio)
purported; purporting; purports

transitive verb

: to have the often specious appearance of being, intending, or claiming (something implied or inferred)
a book that purports to be an objective analysis
also : claim
foreign novels which he purports to have translated Mary McCarthy


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pur·​port ˈpər-ˌpȯrt How to pronounce purport (audio)
: meaning conveyed, professed, or implied : import
also : substance, gist

Did you know?

The verb purport may be more familiar nowadays, but purport exists as a noun that passed into English from Anglo-French in the 15th century as a synonym of gist. Sir Walter Scott provides us with an example from his 19th-century novel Rob Roy: "I was a good deal mortified at the purport of this letter." Anglo-French also has the verb purporter (meaning both "to carry" and "to mean"), which combines the prefix pur- ("thoroughly") and the verb porter ("to carry"). In its original English use, the verb purport meant "to signify"; the "to profess or claim" sense familiar to modern English speakers didn't appear until the 17th century.

Example Sentences

Verb do you purport to spend the rest of your life on that couch, or do you think you might get a job someday? he purports to be an expert in criminalistics Noun the purport of the book The letter was not read aloud, but all present were informed of its purport.
Recent Examples on the Web
The film, based on a very-much-fictional novel by Joyce Carol Oates, does not purport to be a biopic. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 29 Sep. 2022 On the internet, people share simple matrices that purport to map our political allegiances like Dungeons & Dragons alignments, along axes of authoritarian to libertarian, left to right. Sophie Lewis, Harper’s Magazine , 26 Oct. 2022 But even among the new breed of largely right-wing social apps that purport to support free speech by having looser rules and moderation, Parler’s user base is tiny. Michelle Chapman, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Oct. 2022 The controversy over this year’s competition, which gained traction after Bruce voiced her thoughts on TikTok, has led contestants to consider what metrics are being used to award titles that purport to represent state and national ideals. Kaetlyn Liddy, NBC News, 13 Oct. 2022 According to police and the report, Chloe’s friends have received messages that purport to come from the teen, but investigators have been unable to confirm the circumstances. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 10 Oct. 2022 Putin last week signed treaties that purport to absorb Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia. Adam Schreck, Chicago Tribune, 5 Oct. 2022 Even nonprofits that purport to be progressive engage in union-busting. Hanna Hart, Forbes, 2 June 2022 The stories of Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey purport the narrative that financial success is brewed from youth, brilliance, and a willingness to sleep on the office floor. Ashley Stahl, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French, content, tenor, from purporter to carry, mean, purport, from pur- thoroughly + porter to carry — more at purchase entry 1, port

First Known Use


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of purport was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near purport

Cite this Entry

“Purport.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purport. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

purport 1 of 2


pur·​port ˈpər-ˌpō(ə)rt How to pronounce purport (audio)
: meaning stated, suggested, or hinted
: the main point of a talk or subject


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pur·​port (ˌ)pər-ˈpō(ə)rt How to pronounce purport (audio)
: to give the impression of being
purports to be a physician

More from Merriam-Webster on purport

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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