pur·​po·​sive ˈpər-pə-siv How to pronounce purposive (audio) (ˌ)pər-ˈpō- How to pronounce purposive (audio)
: serving or effecting a useful function though not as a result of planning or design
: having or tending to fulfill a conscious purpose or design : purposeful
purposively adverb
purposiveness noun

Examples of purposive in a Sentence

facial tics and other unconscious movements that one would not normally call purposive actions
Recent Examples on the Web For Defoe, meaning is purposive and theological, purposive because theological. James Wood, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Sporadic outbursts of feeling are converted into purposive and unremitting activity. Aldous Huxley, Harper's Magazine, 17 Aug. 2021 In this sense, history is not only rational but also providential: designed, purposive, teleological. James Wood, The New Yorker, 25 May 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'purposive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1849, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of purposive was in 1849

Dictionary Entries Near purposive

Cite this Entry

“Purposive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purposive. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

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