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

Synonyms: Noun

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other videos purport to show Taliban soldiers riding around in bumper cars at an amusement park and enjoying a merry-go-round. Nolan Peterson, WSJ, 26 Aug. 2021 To purport to offer networking that falls short diminishes both the value that attendees get individually as well as the larger impact of the event. Lee Gimpel, Forbes, 10 June 2021 Nonfiction narratives that purport to explain life in Islam’s far-flung capitals paper over the brutal hand of U.S. foreign policy. Audrey Clare Farley, The New Republic, 25 Aug. 2021 Howard Shanker, who has represented several tribes in this and other related lawsuits, said because the laws that purport to protect Native religious practices lack teeth, litigants rely on environmental statutes to attempt to protect sacred sites. AZCentral.com, 20 Aug. 2021 Social media users have shared photos that purport to show Mordake’s skull. Bayliss Wagner, USA TODAY, 22 July 2021 For a collection of institutions that purport to care about students’ education, the NCAA’s collective limits on the educational benefits provided to college athletes were silly in the first instance. Marc Edelman, Forbes, 22 June 2021 Vaccine misinformation has also been published on sites that purport to be local news, but which are pay-for-play content websites. New York Times, 1 Aug. 2021 Jeff Niedenthal, a consultant advocating for Republicans to make critical race theory a wedge issue, states that the curricula doesn't explicitly purport the theory. Star Tribune, 24 July 2021

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


1679, 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 entry 1, port

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Time Traveler for purport

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

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Purport.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purport. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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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)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on purport

Nglish: Translation of purport for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purport for Arabic Speakers


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