[pur-puh s-fuh l]
See more synonyms for purposeful on Thesaurus.com

Origin of purposeful

First recorded in 1850–55; purpose + -ful
Related formspur·pose·ful·ly, adverbpur·pose·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedpurposefully purposely
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for purposeful

Contemporary Examples of purposeful

Historical Examples of purposeful

  • 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.


    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


  1. having a definite purpose in view
  2. fixed in one's purpose; determined
Derived Formspurposefully, adverbpurposefulness, noun


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

Word Origin and History for purposeful

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper