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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.

Examples of purport in a Sentence

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
On Monday, the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of some 100,000 people from nine area blocks on the southeastern part of the city, urging them to relocate to purported safe zones in the north, from which many were told to flee in the first place. Yasmeen Serhan, TIME, 9 May 2024 Later, a local lawyer representing Binance spoke with someone purporting to be an agent of the House committee, Mr. Teng wrote. Emily Flitter, New York Times, 7 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for purport 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'purport.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pur·​port ˈpər-ˌpō(ə)rt How to pronounce purport (audio)
: meaning stated, suggested, or hinted
: the main point of a talk or subject


2 of 2 verb
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

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