[ pur-vyoo ]
See synonyms for purview on Thesaurus.com
  1. the range of operation, authority, control, concern, etc.

  2. the range of vision, insight, or understanding.

  1. Law.

    • that which is provided or enacted in a statute, as distinguished from the preamble.

    • the purpose or scope of a statute.

  2. the full scope or compass of any document, statement, subject, book, etc.

Origin of purview

First recorded in 1225–75; Middle English purveu, from Anglo-French: past participle of purveier “to furnish or supply”; see origin at purvey

word story For purview

Purview comes from Anglo-French purveu, purveue, porveu (with other spelling variants) in the legal phrase purveu est (ke) “it is provided (that)” or purveu que “provided that.” The phrase occurs at or near the beginning of a statute or other legal document. The original (legal) sense “a provisional or qualifying clause; proviso” is now obsolete.
Purveu is the past participle of the verb porveeir, porveoir, purveer (and other variants) “to make available, provide, purvey,” from Latin prōvidēre “to see in advance, look ahead, take precautions, provide for, take measures.”
The current English spelling purview is due to the influence of view, itself from Anglo-French vew, vewe, vieu, vieue, view, ultimately from Vulgar Latin vidūta, the past participle of vidēre “to see.” Around the same time that we see the spelling purview, a metaphorical sense arose, “the range of operation, authority, control, concern, etc.,” a direct extension of the original sense. From this developed a more literal sense related to seeing, “the range of vision, insight, or understanding.”

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

How to use purview in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for purview


/ (ˈpɜːvjuː) /

  1. the scope of operation or concern of something

  2. the breadth or range of outlook or understanding

  1. law the body of a statute, containing the enacting clauses

Origin of purview

C15: from Anglo-Norman purveu, from porveeir to furnish; see purvey

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