pur·​pose·​ful | \ ˈpər-pəs-fəl How to pronounce purposeful (audio) \

Definition of purposeful

1 : having a purpose: such as
a : meaningful purposeful activities
b : intentional purposeful ambiguity
2 : full of determination was soft-spoken but purposeful

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Other Words from purposeful

purposefully \ ˈpər-​pəs-​fə-​lē How to pronounce purposefully (audio) \ adverb
purposefulness noun

Examples of purposeful in a Sentence

a soft-spoken but purposeful criminal investigator there's a difference between a purposeful lie and an accidental untruth

Recent Examples on the Web

Everything is underscored with a purposeful sense of the biases and bigotries and mistaken assumptions that people can bring to even the most fleeting encounters. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Review: 'The Scottsboro Boys’ a searing, spirited, well-told tale of racial injustice at Playhouse on Park," 1 July 2019 Thomas showed few ill effects from the broken leg that ended his 2018 season, prowling toward receivers with purposeful menace. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ OTAs and minicamp," 14 June 2019 But the challenge of helping boys find their way to a purposeful adult life is particularly fraught these days. David French, Time, "The One Thing Every Good Father Does," 13 June 2019 This earliest example of humans burning cannabis in a purposeful way was uncovered as researchers worked on solving the mystery of ancient wooden burners found at a cemetery site in the Pamir mountain range in eastern China. Emily Willingham, Scientific American, "Using Marijuana to Get High Dates Back Millennia," 12 June 2019 Wakefield’s study is not the only evidence that gesture perception and purposeful action both stand on the same neural foundation. Quanta Magazine, "How the Brain Links Gestures, Perception and Meaning," 25 Mar. 2019 These spaces can still be functional and purposeful. Cathy Hobbs, The Seattle Times, "Do’s and don’ts for adding light in a windowless room," 11 Apr. 2019 And of course, purposeful forgetting doesn’t include the kind of extensive memory loss that comes with dementia or similar health problems. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "Why Forgetfulness Might Actually Help You," 22 Jan. 2019 Like the DS 90X, the 450R has that purposeful motocross look, wide and low and bereft of racks, hitches or any suggestion that its mission is anything other than fun. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Great Big Youth ATV Test," 25 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purposeful.' 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 purposeful

1853, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for purposeful

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for purposeful

The first known use of purposeful was in 1853

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More Definitions for purposeful



English Language Learners Definition of purposeful

: having a clear aim or purpose


pur·​pose·​ful | \ ˈpər-pəs-fəl How to pronounce purposeful (audio) \

Kids Definition of purposeful

: having a clear intention or aim

Other Words from purposeful

purposefully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb
purposefulness noun

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Comments on purposeful

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