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

In the case of the Red Roof Inn, someone purporting to be the manager responded to some negative reviews on TripAdvisor, the lawsuit says. Eliott C. Mclaughlin And Tina Burnside, CNN, "Atlanta hotel employees helped sex traffickers avoid police, four plaintiffs allege in federal lawsuits," 28 Aug. 2019 Take the reply Abbott tweeted at 1:17 a.m. Friday to a possibly fake Twitter account purporting to be a teacher. Jamie Hancock, Dallas News, "Who has the secret audio of Texas House speaker meeting, Rick Perry's Instagram gaffe, Dallas mayor has a new job," 27 Aug. 2019 The warrant application stated only that Novak created a fake Facebook account, purporting to be a legitimate Department page. Jack Greiner, Cincinnati.com, "Strictly Legal: Ohio police department's inability to take a joke may cost it.," 2 July 2019 In 2014, a video released by Islamic State militants purported to show the beheading of American journalist James Foley, who grew up in New Hampshire, as retribution for US airstrikes in Iraq. BostonGlobe.com, "This day in history," 19 Aug. 2019 Satellite images of the sports center, located just across the harbor from Hong Kong, purport to show vehicles gathering at the center. Matt Rivers And Tara John, CNN, "Chinese paramilitary members are gathered near Hong Kong border," 14 Aug. 2019 Egg-freezing clinics purport to sidestep a dilemma faced especially by women who wait beyond their mid-thirties, when egg cell deterioration can accelerate, to have a baby. The Economist, "The fertility business is booming," 8 Aug. 2019 The program purported to teach students how to communicate with angels. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Princess Märtha Louise of Norway Is No Stranger to Notoriety," 8 Aug. 2019 Buzz60 College rankings purport to tell the public which schools are worthwhile, even though many academics view the rankings as worthless. Chris Quintana, USA TODAY, "US News & World Report ranks America's 'best' colleges. But, is there really a way to know?," 7 Aug. 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

8 Sep 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

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recurring in steady succession

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