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[pur-puh s-fuh l] /ˈpɜr pəs fəl/
having a purpose.
determined; resolute.
full of meaning; significant.
Origin of purposeful
First recorded in 1850-55; purpose + -ful
Related forms
purposefully, adverb
purposefulness, noun
Can be confused
purposefully, purposely. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for purposeful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He moved off with all the confident air of his simple, purposeful nature.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • It was the stubborn, purposeful character of the man that she admired, and thought most of.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • And he was cool, too; cool and self-contained; fearless and purposeful.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • He accepted that feeling with a purposeful sternness, and tried to pass on.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • He, this man who had robbed me of my hard-working, purposeful existence.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for purposeful


having a definite purpose in view
fixed in one's purpose; determined
Derived Forms
purposefully, adverb
purposefulness, noun
Usage note
Purposefully is sometimes wrongly used where purposely is meant: he had purposely (not purposefully) left the door unlocked
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for purposeful

1835, from purpose (n.) + -ful. Related: Purposefully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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