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  1. something that is intended; purpose; design; intention: The original intent of the committee was to raise funds.
  2. the act or fact of intending, as to do something: criminal intent.
  3. Law. the state of a person's mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.
  4. meaning or significance.
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  1. to/for all intents and purposes, for all practical purposes; practically speaking; virtually: The book is, to all intents and purposes, a duplication of earlier efforts.
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Origin of intent1

1175–1225; Middle English < Late Latin intentus an aim, purpose, Latin: a stretching out (inten(dere) to intend + -tus suffix of v. action); replacing Middle English entent(e) < Old French < Late Latin, as above
Can be confusedintense intensive intents


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1. See intention. 2. aim, plan, plot.


  1. firmly or steadfastly fixed or directed, as the eyes or mind: an intent gaze.
  2. having the attention sharply focused or fixed on something: intent on one's job.
  3. determined or resolved; having the mind or will fixed on some goal: intent on revenge.
  4. earnest; intense: an intent person.
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Origin of intent2

1600–10; < Latin intentus taut, intent, past participle of intendere to intend; cf. intense
Related formsin·tent·ly, adverbin·tent·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for intent


  1. something that is intended; aim; purpose; design
  2. the act of intending
  3. law the will or purpose with which one does an act
  4. implicit meaning; connotation
  5. to all intents and purposes for all practical purposes; virtually
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  1. firmly fixed; determined; concentratedan intent look
  2. (postpositive; usually foll by on or upon) having the fixed intention (of); directing one's mind or energy (to)intent on committing a crime
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Derived Formsintently, adverbintentness, noun

Word Origin

C13 (in the sense: intention): from Late Latin intentus aim, intent, from Latin: a stretching out; see intend
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

Word Origin and History for intent


"purpose," early 13c., from Old French entente, from Latin intentus "a stretching out," in Late Latin "intention, attention," noun use of past participle of intendere "stretch out, lean toward, strain," literally "to stretch out" (see intend).

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"very attentive," late 14c., from Latin intentus "attentive, eager, waiting, strained," past participle of intendere "to strain, stretch" (see intend). Related: Intently.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with intent


see to all intents and purposes.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.