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Synonym Chooser

How does the noun purpose contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of purpose are aim, design, end, goal, intention, intent, objective, and object. While all these words mean "what one intends to accomplish or attain," purpose suggests a more settled determination.

being successful was her purpose in life

Where would aim be a reasonable alternative to purpose?

The meanings of aim and purpose largely overlap; however, aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing.

her aim was to raise film to an art form

When would design be a good substitute for purpose?

While the synonyms design and purpose are close in meaning, design implies a more carefully calculated plan.

the order of events came by accident, not design

When might end be a better fit than purpose?

While in some cases nearly identical to purpose, 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

When can goal be used instead of purpose?

In some situations, the words goal and purpose are roughly equivalent. However, goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship.

worked years to reach her goals

When is intent a more appropriate choice than purpose?

The words intent and purpose are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness.

the clear intent of the statute

When is it sensible to use intention instead of purpose?

Although the words intention and purpose have much in common, intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about.

announced his intention to marry

How do object and end relate to one another, in the sense of purpose?

Object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need.

his constant object was the achievement of pleasure

In what contexts can objective take the place of purpose?

The synonyms objective and purpose are sometimes interchangeable, but objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable.

their objective is to seize the oil fields

Thesaurus Entries Near purpose

Cite this Entry

“Purpose.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/purpose. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on purpose

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