[ pur-puhs ]
See synonyms for: purposepurposedpurposes on Thesaurus.com

  1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.

  2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

  1. determination; resoluteness.

  2. the subject in hand; the point at issue.

  3. practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.

verb (used with object),pur·posed, pur·pos·ing.
  1. to set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself.

  2. to intend; design.

  1. to resolve (to do something): He purposed to change his way of life radically.

verb (used without object),pur·posed, pur·pos·ing.
  1. to have a purpose.

Idioms about purpose

  1. on purpose, by design; intentionally: How could you do such a thing on purpose?

  2. to the purpose, relevant; to the point: Her objections were not to the purpose.

Origin of purpose

First recorded in1250–1300; (noun) Middle English purpos, from Old French, derivative of purposer, variant of proposer “to propose ”; (verb) Middle English purposen, from Anglo-French, Old French purposer

synonym study For purpose

1. See intention.

Other words for purpose

Other words from purpose

  • pre·pur·pose, verb (used with object), pre·pur·posed, pre·pur·pos·ing.
  • re·pur·pose, verb (used with object), re·pur·posed, re·pur·pos·ing.
  • un·pur·posed, adjective
  • un·pur·pos·ing, adjective

Words Nearby purpose

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use purpose in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for purpose


/ (ˈpɜːpəs) /

  1. the reason for which anything is done, created, or exists

  2. a fixed design, outcome, or idea that is the object of an action or other effort

  1. fixed intention in doing something; determination: a man of purpose

  2. practical advantage or use: to work to good purpose

  3. that which is relevant or under consideration (esp in the phrase to or from the purpose)

  4. archaic purport

  5. on purpose intentionally

  1. to intend or determine to do (something)

Origin of purpose

C13: from Old French porpos, from porposer to plan, from Latin prōpōnere to propose

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with purpose


see at cross purposes; for all intents and purposes; on purpose; serve a purpose; to good purpose; to little or no purpose.

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