pur·​port | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈpȯrt How to pronounce purport (audio) \
purported; purporting; purports

Definition of purport

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to have the often specious appearance of being, intending, or claiming (something implied or inferred) a book that purports to be an objective analysis also : claim foreign novels which he purports to have translated — Mary McCarthy


pur·​port | \ ˈpər-ˌpȯrt How to pronounce purport (audio) \

Definition of purport (Entry 2 of 2)

: meaning conveyed, professed, or implied : import also : substance, gist

Synonyms for purport

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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The verb purport may be more familiar nowadays, but purport exists as a noun that passed into English from Anglo-French in the 15th century as a synonym of gist. Sir Walter Scott provides us with an example from his 19th-century novel Rob Roy: "I was a good deal mortified at the purport of this letter." Anglo-French also has the verb purporter (meaning both "to carry" and "to mean"), which combines the prefix pur- ("thoroughly") and the verb porter ("to carry"). In its original English use, the verb purport meant "to signify"; the "to profess or claim" sense familiar to modern English speakers didn't appear until the 17th century.

Examples of purport in a Sentence

Verb do you purport to spend the rest of your life on that couch, or do you think you might get a job someday? he purports to be an expert in criminalistics Noun the purport of the book The letter was not read aloud, but all present were informed of its purport.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Five Days does not purport to have a more definitive answer. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 5 Aug. 2022 One is that Citizens United and other related cases purport to be businesses friendly. Christopher Marquis, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 Performance Luxury, of course, is only half of what these two EVs purport to be about. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, 27 July 2022 Throughout the decades, there have been numerous books that purport to tell the true story of Charles and Camilla. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 16 July 2022 JLo Beauty, which launched in 2021, currently offers 10 luxe products that purport to endow the wearer with Lopez's own signature dewy glow. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 7 July 2022 Lawmakers who purport to care about the country should be livid right now. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, 6 July 2022 They are courted by cartels and smugglers that purport to guarantee an entrance to the United States, including for those who’ve already been expelled or turned back. Felipe De La Hoz, The New Republic, 30 June 2022 Court documents purport that the manuscripts were stolen in the late ’70s by a biographer who was working on an apparently unpublished book about the Eagles; that person has not been identified by the D.A. or band reps. Chris Willman, Variety, 12 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of purport


1679, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for purport


Middle English, from Anglo-French, content, tenor, from purporter to carry, mean, purport, from pur- thoroughly + porter to carry — more at purchase entry 1, port

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The first known use of purport was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Purport.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purport. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on purport

Nglish: Translation of purport for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purport for Arabic Speakers


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