pur·​port | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈpȯrt \
purported; purporting; purports

Definition of purport

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : 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


pur·​port | \ ˈpər-ˌpȯrt \

Definition of purport (Entry 2 of 2)

: meaning conveyed, professed, or implied : import also : substance, gist

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Synonyms for purport

Synonyms: Verb

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

Synonyms: Noun

content, denotation, drift, import, intent, intention, meaning, sense, significance, signification

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Did You Know?


The verb purport may be more familiar nowadays, but the noun purport (a synonym of gist, as in gave the purport of her speech in a few words) is a bit older. The noun passed into English from Anglo-French in the mid 1400s. Anglo-French also had the verb purporter (meaning both to carry and to mean), which itself combined the prefix pur- (thoroughly) and the verb porter (to carry). But English speakers apparently waited another seven decades to employ the verb. The first recorded use of purport as a verb doesn't appear until 1528.

Examples of purport in a Sentence


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


the purport of the book The letter was not read aloud, but all present were informed of its purport.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Putting them under a roof – even one with open-air sightlines – with temps in the 40s or 50s, isn’t quite the experience these events purport. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Outdoor NHL game in Seattle? As good a chance as the new team being named ‘Kraken’," 14 Jan. 2019 And children would not be torn away from their parents at our borders. Do not be fooled by Trump’s purported adversarial relationship with the U.S. attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Dahleen Glanton, chicagotribune.com, "Trump and Sessions are cut from the same bigoted cloth," 18 June 2018 But imagining that he could possibly be connected to so many infamous cases — including those that have already been adjudicated with other convictions — is something that Cameron has purported for several years. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, "Was One Man Responsible for Killing JonBenét, Black Dahlia & More? New Documentary Says It’s Possible," 16 Mar. 2018 Comey incoherently mocked the memo’s purported unimportance even while listing all its deleterious effects and the crises that would ensue. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The FISA-Gate Boomerangs," 6 Feb. 2018 Billy Corgan, leader of the Smashing Pumpkins, has been catching flak among gearheads on the internet recently for purporting that paint color affects the sound of guitars. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "Can Guitar Paint Affect Your Tone?," 31 Dec. 2018 The veteran goalkeeper has been tipped to join the Reds at the end of this term when his contract comes to an end with Porto in July, with Real Madrid pseudo news sites Bernabeu Digital and Mi Otra Liga both purporting the story. SI.com, "Surreal Report Claims Liverpool Could Sign Veteran Porto Keeper on One-Year Deal in Summer," 28 Mar. 2018 Another, purporting to be run by a state representative candidate's dog, frequently encourages his owner to set him free. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com, "Parody Twitter accounts are increasingly a semi-official part of political campaigns," 27 Feb. 2018 But superfans now have access to his music via the Neil Young Archives, a comprehensive website and app that costs $1.99 a month, or $19.99 a year, and purports to offer a superior listening experience. Anne Steele, WSJ, "Neil Young Launches Subscription Streaming Service," 20 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of purport


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for purport


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

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Statistics for purport

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for purport

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

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More Definitions for purport



English Language Learners Definition of purport

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to claim to be or do a particular thing when this claim may not be true



English Language Learners Definition of purport (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : the main or general meaning of something (such as a speech or a person's actions)

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More from Merriam-Webster on purport

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with purport

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purport

Spanish Central: Translation of purport

Nglish: Translation of purport for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purport for Arabic Speakers

Comments on purport

What made you want to look up purport? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


esteemed in general opinion

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