purpose

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

Definition of purpose

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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

purpose

verb
purposed; purposing

Definition of purpose (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to propose as an aim to oneself

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Synonyms for purpose

Synonyms: Noun

aim, ambition, aspiration, bourne (also bourn), design, dream, end, goal, idea, ideal, intent, intention, mark, meaning, object, objective, plan, point, pretension, target, thing

Synonyms: Verb

aim, allow [chiefly Southern & Midland], aspire, calculate, contemplate, design, go [chiefly Southern & Midland], intend, look, mean, meditate, plan, propose, purport

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Choose the Right Synonym for purpose

Noun

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

Examples of purpose in a Sentence

Noun

Shocking as it is, more than a month after the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still, for all practical purposes, a ghost town. — Tom Piazza, Why New Orleans Matters, 2005 By the time … American aid began pouring in, to all intents and purposes the war had already been lost. — Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, 1993 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 Gordon, American Heritage, May - June 1992 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 Steele, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 1990 The purpose of the new resort is to attract more tourists. The loans are small but they serve a good purpose. Sometimes his life seemed to lack purpose or meaning. We started work again with a renewed sense of purpose.

Verb

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 Twain, A Tramp Abroad, 1880 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 Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, 1841 I've been purposing to fix that thing for some time now.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To evade oversight, Passage simply falsified or did not fill out USDA or state veterinary forms, which asked whether the purpose for transferring an animal was a sale, donation or some other activity. oregonlive.com, "The trouble with tigers in America," 13 July 2019 The purpose of national service, for Buckley, was less to elicit good deeds than to elicit gratitude from the volunteers. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 The purpose of the test was to observe how the rocket detached from the 747's wing and its free-fall to the desert floor. Washington Post, "Toyota to build new SUV, not Corolla, at plant in Alabama," 11 July 2019 The purpose of the visit was to find common ground and build consensus on how to solve some of the issues along the border going forward. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Mesa, Yuma mayors met with Homeland Security chief at El Paso border," 11 July 2019 The purpose of earthquake insurance is to help put a roof back over your head. Janna Herron, USA TODAY, "California earthquake insurance: What does home insurance cover after a disaster?," 4 July 2019 The main purpose of this meat category is to offer creamy richness. Alex Delany, Bon Appétit, "THIS is the Ultimate Italian Hoagie Meat Lineup," 3 July 2019 The purpose of this two-week meeting is to consider new proposals for listing or removing species from appendices, to debate other decisions and resolutions about implementation of regulations, and to review conservation progress. Rachel Fobar, National Geographic, "What is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species?," 3 July 2019 The purpose of the protests was to call on Congress and government leaders to close the detention camps, refuse to authorize any more funding for family detention or deportation, and visit detention camps over the holiday weekend. Ivana Hrynkiw | Ihrynkiw@al.com, al.com, "‘Inhumane, cruel’: Birmingham protesters call for end to immigrant detention centers," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Gates will be painted with colors representing land, water and sun, and recycled O.C. Fair banners will be re-purposed as seat cushions at the Plaza Pacifica area. Priscella Vega, latimes.com, "O.C. Fair applies finishing touches to open ‘Acres of Fun’ in Costa Mesa," 7 July 2019 Still under federal ownership, the building was saved when a proposal to turn it into a federal courthouse was accepted in 1972, with the former exhibit building behind it re-purposed as a federal training center. Paula Allen, ExpressNews.com, "Preservation progress is slow for ‘controversial’ film at San Antonio’s HemisFair ’68," 6 July 2019 Hair clippings, excess chemicals, foil strips, and food containers are sent to Green Circle Salons, to be re-purposed or recycled. Kirk Sides, Houston Chronicle, "League City salon's eco-friendly business makes people and Earth beautiful," 3 June 2019 HOME Fresh is one piece, made from recycled plastic that’s been re-purposed into polyester yarn. Matthew Townsend / Bloomberg, Time, "'Big Carpet' Is Betting This New Floor Covering Will Get Americans to End Their Love of Hardwood," 6 June 2019 And there’s no doubt that Ali’s involvement in theater has now given others purpose and courage as well. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Ali Stroker on "Oklahoma!" and Bringing Disability Representation to Another Iconic Musical," 6 Aug. 2018 Lambert said Life Remodeled works at the Durfee Innovation Society, which was re-purposed from the old Durfee Elementary School building. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Free outdoor yoga at Cobo Center benefits charity," 6 July 2018 Those could include re-purposing 18 certified law enforcement officers already hired by the district or paying cops overtime pay. Colleen Wright, miamiherald, "With little time and cash, Broward to hire armed guards instead of police at schools," 27 June 2018 His supporters — many of whom came with their families — drank beer and ate bar snacks in the large Union Jack’s pub, where pool tables were re-purposed to hold cheese plates. Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, "As Democrats stump, Hogan kicks off reelection campaign," 9 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of purpose

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for purpose

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for purpose

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for purpose

The first known use of purpose was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for purpose

purpose

noun

English Language Learners Definition of purpose

: 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

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

Kids Definition of purpose

: 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

purpose

noun
pur·​pose | \ ˈpər-pəs How to pronounce purpose (audio) \

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

Other Words from purpose

purposeful \ -​fəl How to pronounce purposeful (audio) \ adjective
purposefully adverb
purposefulness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on purpose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purpose

Spanish Central: Translation of purpose

Nglish: Translation of purpose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purpose for Arabic Speakers

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