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[pur-puh-siv] /ˈpɜr pə sɪv/
having, showing, or acting with a purpose, intention, or design.
adapted to a purpose or end.
serving some purpose.
determined; resolute.
of or characteristic of purpose.
Origin of purposive
First recorded in 1850-55; purpose + -ive
Related forms
purposively, adverb
purposiveness, noun
nonpurposive, adjective
nonpurposively, adverb
nonpurposiveness, noun
prepurposive, adjective
semipurposive, adjective
semipurposively, adverb
semipurposiveness, noun
unpurposive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for purposive
Historical Examples
  • Causal effects are sought in a sphere which belongs to purposive values.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
  • I understand his inner life by taking a purposive point of view.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
  • One moves in the purposive sphere, the other in the causal sphere.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
  • According to the older Darwinism the lungs are just as purposive as the corkscrew.

    Evolution, Old & New Samuel Butler
  • Since the ability to live is threatened by this specialization it cannot be purposive.

    At the Deathbed of Darwinism Eberhard Dennert
  • He wanted to be unanimous with the whole of purposive mankind.

    The Rainbow D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence
  • There is a distinct falling off in the accuracy of the purposive movements.

    'I Believe' and other essays Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • The probabilities are that in their first origin the reactions were not purposive.

    Being Well-Born Michael F. Guyer
  • Co-ordinated and purposive though they be, they do not come within the sphere of the will.

  • These are not authoritative, like the former, but purposive only.

    The Religious Sentiment Daniel G. Brinton
British Dictionary definitions for purposive


relating to, having, or indicating conscious intention
serving a purpose; useful
Derived Forms
purposively, adverb
purposiveness, noun
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 purposive

1849, from purpose + -ive.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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