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purpose

noun pur·pose \ ˈpər-pəs \
Updated on: 3 Dec 2017

Definition of purpose

1 a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : intention
2 : a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution
on purpose
: by intent : intentionally

Examples of purpose in a Sentence

  1. Shocking as it is, more than a month after the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still, for all practical purposes, a ghost town. —Tom PiazzaWhy New Orleans Matters2005
  2. By the time … American aid began pouring in, to all intents and purposes the war had already been lost. —Neil L. JamiesonUnderstanding Vietnam1993
  3. But wartime wage and price controls prevented companies from competing for the available talent by means of increased salaries. They had to compete with fringe benefits instead, and free health insurance was tailor-made for this purpose. —John Steele GordonAmerican HeritageMay - June 1992
  4. His purpose is to realize himself, to live the fullest possible life, and he is responsible for this, like all men, regardless of how society treats him. —Shelby SteeleWilson QuarterlySummer 1990
  5. The purpose of the new resort is to attract more tourists.

  6. The loans are small but they serve a good purpose.

  7. Sometimes his life seemed to lack purpose or meaning.

  8. We started work again with a renewed sense of purpose.

Recent Examples of purpose from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purpose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of purpose

Middle English purpos, from Anglo-French, from purposer to intend, propose, from Latin proponere (perfect indicative proposui) to propose — more at propound

Synonym Discussion of purpose

intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain. intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about.
    • announced his intention to marry
intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness.
    • the clear intent of the statute
purpose suggests a more settled determination.
    • being successful was her purpose in life
design implies a more carefully calculated plan.
    • the order of events came by accident, not design
aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing.
    • her aim was to raise film to an art form
end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such.
    • willing to use any means to achieve his end
object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need.
    • his constant object was the achievement of pleasure
objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable.
    • their objective is to seize the oil fields
goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship.
    • worked years to reach her goals

2

purpose

verb

Definition of purpose

purposed; purposing
transitive verb
: to propose as an aim to oneself

Examples of purpose in a Sentence

  1. I have not purposed to misrepresent this boy in any way, for what little indignation he excited in me soon passed and left nothing behind it but compassion. —Mark TwainA Tramp Abroad1880
  2. The child then explained that they had left the races on the first day, and were travelling to the next town on that road, where they purposed to spend the night. —Charles DickensThe Old Curiosity Shop1841
  3. I've been purposing to fix that thing for some time now.

Recent Examples of purpose from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purpose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of purpose

purpose Synonyms

Synonyms
aim, allow [chiefly Southern & Midland], aspire, calculate, contemplate, design, go [chiefly Southern & Midland], look, mean, meditate, plan, propose, purport, intend
Related Words
dream, hope, wish; consider, debate, mull (over), ponder; attempt, endeavor, strive, struggle, try; plot, scheme; accomplish, achieve, effect, execute, perform

PURPOSE Defined for English Language Learners

purpose

noun

Definition of purpose for English Language Learners

  • : the reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something

  • : the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something

  • : the aim or goal of a person : what a person is trying to do, become, etc.


PURPOSE Defined for Kids

purpose

noun pur·pose \ ˈpər-pəs \

Definition of purpose for Students

: something set up as a goal to be achieved : intention, aim
  • “… my purpose in writing this brief note is to suggest that we meet.”
  • —E. B. White, Stuart Little
on purpose

Law Dictionary

purpose

noun pur·pose \ ˈpər-pəs \

legal Definition of purpose

: an objective, effect, or result aimed at or attained; specifically : the business activity in which a corporation is chartered to engage

purposeful

play \-fəl\ adjective

purposefully

adverb

purposefulness

noun


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