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

God List’ that purports to identify with ‘reasonable certainty’ an inventory of all Master Recordings destroyed in the Fire. Jem Aswad, chicagotribune.com, "Soundgarden, Tupac and Tom Petty estates sue Universal Music over fire damage," 22 June 2019 Tehran tweeted the drone’s purported coördinates in its airspace. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "What Will Follow Trump’s Cancelled Strike on Iran?," 21 June 2019 Almost four weeks before it was released to the public, Barr wrote a four-page letter to Congress purporting to summarize its findings. David Cole, The New York Review of Books, "An Indictment in All But Name," 23 May 2019 Protesters then plastered the headquarters with photographs purported to be of people injured by police at earlier demonstrations. Time Staff, Time, "Escalating Their Campaign Into a Push for Political Freedom, Protesters Return to Hong Kong's Streets," 21 June 2019 On June 13 officers met with a resident who reported receiving a message on their computer purporting to be from Microsoft indicating that a pornography website had debited $15,000 from their checking account. chicagotribune.com, "Blotter: 2 unlocked vehicles burglarized in Winnetka," 20 June 2019 Leaflets have also appeared in Basra in recent days purporting to be from Islamic State praising the protests and warning security forces against any crackdown. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "As Iraq Tries to Beat the Heat, U.S. Renews Sanctions Waiver on Power From Iran," 18 June 2019 The airline didn’t respond to requests to verify a document purporting to be a Lion Air maintenance report, dated Sunday, that described inaccurate airspeed and altitude readings after takeoff. Stephen Wright, The Seattle Times, "Previous flight of crashed Lion Air jet terrified passengers," 30 Oct. 2018 In a strange twist, Cisneros' campaign accused Thorburn's campaign of releasing a fake voicemail with a man purporting to be Cisneros. Maeve Reston, CNN, "California's 'top two' primary election tussle," 31 May 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

14 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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