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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for purport

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb China’s high-tech industrialization policy, known as Made in China 2025, purports to take the country to the front ranks of advanced manufacturing in aerospace, robotics, clean energy, transportation and the life sciences. The Editors, Scientific American, "China Needs Stronger Ethical Safeguards in Biomedicine," 1 Oct. 2019 The coalition also released video purporting to show airstrikes targeting what al-Malki says were Houthi fighters and vehicles in Kitaf. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Yemen rebels free 290 detainees, reviving hopes for talks," 30 Sep. 2019 Mr Ferreira gave text messages to the Paraguayan press purporting to show that an adviser to Paraguay’s vice-president, Hugo Velázquez, acting with the knowledge of Mr Abdo Benítez, was arranging meetings with Léros and lobbying on its behalf. The Economist, "A secret hydropower deal with Brazil causes a political crisis in Paraguay," 22 Aug. 2019 After opponents complained this language was unclear, police distributed flyers purporting to show acceptable coffee-stand clothing: at least shorts and a tank top. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "No new bottom line in Everett’s bikini barista brouhaha," 19 Aug. 2019 Last week, the Pentagon released footage purporting to show an Iranian vessel affixing an unexploded mine to one of the ships. Stefan Becket, CBS News, "U.S. sending 1,000 more troops to Middle East amid tensions with Iran," 17 June 2019 Meanwhile, Warren recently released a detailed explanation purporting to show how her system would function and, crucially, how the federal treasury could finance such a vast entitlement expansion. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: Sanders’s and Warren’s health-care plans sound too good to be true. They are.," 10 Nov. 2019 Founded in 2003 by 19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos was a Silicon Valley blood-testing startup company that purported to use technology to screen patients for infections and release antibiotics that would treat the condition. Aaliyah Gibson, chicagotribune.com, "Scams and shams: The biggest frauds in business," 1 Nov. 2019 Security footage purporting to show the incident was leaked to the celebrity news website TMZ. BostonGlobe.com, "Conor McGregor, one of the biggest stars of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is being investigated over a sexual assault allegation,," 20 Oct. 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.

See More

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 entry 1, port

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about purport

Listen to Our Podcast about purport

Statistics for purport

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for purport

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for purport


How to pronounce purport (audio)

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


How to pronounce purport (audio)

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)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on purport

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purport

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


strength of mind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!