1 of 2


in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: a usually clearly formulated or planned intention : aim
the director's intent
: the act or fact of intending : purpose
especially : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act
admitted wounding him with intent
: the state of mind with which an act is done : volition


2 of 2


: directed with strained or eager attention : concentrated
: having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something or some end or purpose
intent on their work
intentness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for intent

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 intent in a Sentence

Noun She thinks I'm trying to make things difficult for her, but that's not my intent. The intent of the law is to protect consumers. He was charged with assault with intent to kill. Adjective intent on finishing her sculpture in time for the group show he was so intent on his work that he didn't hear the dog bark
Recent Examples on the Web
Taiga Motors was started by three college buddies with the express intent of electrifying outdoor powersport vehicles. WIRED, 18 Nov. 2023 A little Falcon 9 history The better part of a decade ago, SpaceX maneuvered an autonomous drone ship into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time with the intent of catching a falling rocket. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 17 Nov. 2023 Murray Orr Despite the exhibition serving as a kind of statement of intent to mark the one-year anniversary of Bard, the pair describe the past 12 months as a learning curve. Liam Hess, Vogue, 16 Nov. 2023 Yet while reaching concrete agreements and voicing a shared intent, the leaders chose to frame U.S.-China relations in fundamentally different ways. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Nov. 2023 Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has expressed regret about the city’s handling of Dexter Wade’s death, blaming a miscommunication and saying there was no malicious intent. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, 14 Nov. 2023 As with his records, his simple intent belied the skill and keen perspective Strachwitz brought to his photography. Joel Selvin, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Nov. 2023 John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who sits on the board of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, rejects the idea that such lawsuits distort the intent of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2023 The judge also noted that in 1966 the Legislature prohibited judges from practicing law without changes to the government code in question — an indication of the Legislature’s intent to prohibit sitting judges from being appointed or elected as public defenders. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2023
Decades of American rhetoric that celebrated commerce as a wellspring of democratization in China have given way to resignation that the country’s current leadership — under President Xi Jinping — is intent on crushing dissent at home and projecting military might abroad. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Advertisement In New York last week, the former president was intent on disrupting the state’s civil suit against him on allegations of financial fraud. Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2023 Father and son were intent on making several things clear. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Nov. 2023 The celebrity stylist — who works with clients like Andrew Garfield, Lewis Pullman and Patrick Dempsey — is intent on creating something timeless. Genevieve Cepeda, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023 Hard hits by Gilman (on wide receiver Allen Lazard) and James (on running back Breece Hall) in the first quarter quickly established how much the Chargers were intent on flexing their defensive prowess. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 Beijing has been intent on making breakthroughs in its semiconductor industry even as the US is trying to limit China’s access to cutting-edge chip technologies. TIME, 6 Nov. 2023 The host has been intent on developing joyful, sillier fare with his Spartina Industries production company. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 3 Nov. 2023 This would effectively fulfill Serbia and Kosovo’s previous commitments negotiated earlier this year, but there is little sign that either side is actually intent on following through. Chris Massaro, Fox News, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Middle English entente, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin intentus, from Latin, act of stretching out, from intendere


Latin intentus, from past participle of intendere

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of intent was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near intent

Cite this Entry

“Intent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: purpose sense 1, intention
with intent to injure
: meaning entry 1 sense 1a
the intent of the law


2 of 2 adjective
: directed with strained or eager attention
an intent gaze
: having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something
: set on some end or purpose
intent on going
intently adverb
intentness noun

Legal Definition


in·​tent in-ˈtent How to pronounce intent (audio)
: the act or fact of intending: as
: the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act

called also criminal intent

compare knowledge, mens rea, motive, negligence
: the purpose to commit a tortious act having consequences that the actor desires and believes or knows will occur
constructive intent
: intent that is inferred to exist (as from willfulness or recklessness) in relation to an act
criminal intent
general intent
: intent to perform an illegal act without the desire for further consequences or a precise result there was a general intent to assault but not to kill
specific intent
: intent to perform an illegal act with the knowledge or purpose that particular results will or may ensue assaulted him with specific intent to kill
transferred intent
: intent attributed to a person who intends to cause another harm when the harm is accidentally inflicted on an unintended victim
: a doctrine in tort and criminal law: a wrongdoer who causes harm to a person other than the one intended may nevertheless be held to have intended the harmful result
: the purpose of a document (as a contract or will)
: the aim or goal of a person in creating a document or taking an action
the court's attempt to fulfill the donor's intent
the intent of the contracting parties implied by their language
see also original intent

More from Merriam-Webster on intent

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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