in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: what one intends to do or bring about
: the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
intentions plural : purpose with respect to marriage
: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds
: concept
especially : a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge
Choose the Right Synonym for intention

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

Example Sentences

She announced her intention to run for governor. He seemed to think that I was trying to cause problems, but that was never my intention. He bought a dog with the intention of training it to attack intruders. He has good intentions, but his suggestions aren't really helpful.
Recent Examples on the Web Meg’s intention with the app is to show users everyone can be an athlete. Jacqueline Tempera, Women's Health, 16 Mar. 2023 ProPublica’s investigation also led to a report by South Florida public radio station WLRN that revealed one museum’s intention to return all of the human remains and funerary objects in its collection to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Logan Jaffe, ProPublica, 15 Mar. 2023 Soon enough, having forsaken all intention of defending herself, Judge has no choice but to run—literally. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Mar. 2023 Investigators said Williams’ intention was to rob Hoover. Christopher Cann, Orlando Sentinel, 14 Mar. 2023 The First Partner’s primary intention in coming forward was to ensure that Weinstein spends the rest of his life in prison. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 14 Mar. 2023 Column: How tech is changing L.A. — and how L.A. is changing tech Feb. 6, 2023 As many have pointed out, the bank should probably have seen trouble brewing as the Fed hiked interest rates and made its intention of continuing to do so clear. Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2023 In some cultures and regions, a form of respectful address is expected in most social situations, and the intention of such terms are generally understood. Janelle Davis, CNN, 12 Mar. 2023 In recent remarks to investors, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO signaled the company’s intention to push for higher pricing in upfront talks. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 10 Mar. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intention.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of intention was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near intention

Cite this Entry

“Intention.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: a determination to act in a certain way
: an intended goal : aim
: a person or purpose that is especially prayed for

Medical Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: a determination to act in a certain way
: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds see first intention, second intention

Legal Definition


in·​ten·​tion in-ˈten-chən How to pronounce intention (audio)
: something intended : intent
the intention of the testator

Note: Intent is more commonly used than intention when speaking technically especially about the criminal and tort concepts of intent (senses 1a and 1b).

More from Merriam-Webster on intention

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