pur·​port | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈpȯrt How to pronounce purport (audio) \
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 How to pronounce purport (audio) \

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

Earlier this week, Miller Lite released ads purporting to pick up where Bud Light ad shoots leave off, depicting actors who choose Miller Lite in real life. Nat Ives, WSJ, "MillerCoors Sues Anheuser-Busch Over Bud Light’s Corn Syrup Ads," 22 Mar. 2019 In short, what was purported to be healthy for my body felt like hell on my brain, and that isn’t worth it for me. Gray Chapman, SELF, "A Nightmare About Nachos Made Me Realize That Dieting Was Causing Me Food Anxiety," 27 Mar. 2019 One theory purports that the Last Hero, the warrior who helped the Children of the Forest defeat the White Walkers in during the Long Night thousands of years ago, was turned into the first Three-Eyed Raven. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Game of Thrones Season 8: 18 Fan Theories to Know," 18 Mar. 2019 Water running from a spring in the sanctuary’s Grotto of the Apparitions is purported to have curative powers and millions of pilgrims visit the sanctuary every year. Elaine Ganley, The Seattle Times, "Bishop declares nun’s recovery as 70th Lourdes miracle," 11 Feb. 2018 Economists on both the right and the left have lately been poking holes in the Saez/Piketty research which purported to show a dramatic increase in levels of income inequality. James Freeman, WSJ, "Elizabeth Warren’s Unconstitutional Wealth Tax," 25 Jan. 2019 The scams involve an unsolicited phone call, email or computer-screen pop-up notification from someone purporting to be a tech-support specialist who has identified a virus infecting you computer. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "FBI: Big increase in tech-support fraud in Arizona this year," 3 July 2018 Jane Lytvynenko wrote this week about a misleading clip that purported to show voter fraud. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter," 9 Nov. 2018 Again, these sentiments are being brought to you from the inner circle of a gilt-penthouse-dwelling president who purports to be champion of the common man. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "With Ill-Conceived Government Shutdown Commentary, Wilbur Ross and Lara Trump Prove Just How Out of Touch They Are," 24 Jan. 2019

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

5 May 2019

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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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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