Definition of purpose in US English:



  • 1The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

    ‘the purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee’
    ‘the building is no longer needed for its original purpose’
    • ‘The trust has decided to rename it Chorister's House to reflect the original purpose of the building.’
    • ‘Nor did they change my understanding as to what the purpose of the meeting had been.’
    • ‘It was created for the purpose of promoting advancement and prosperity of our continent.’
    • ‘Stalin expanded the system for the purpose of creating a massive labour pool.’
    • ‘If you've made an effort, you should explain the purpose and the reason behind it.’
    • ‘Maybe the training workshop has a secondary purpose, which is to give some of us the space to let off steam.’
    • ‘Can you talk about who your viewers are, what audience, or for whom are you making a film, if such a purpose exists?’
    • ‘That gave him his certainty of purpose and defined the purpose of his politics.’
    • ‘This is a reasonable choice, keeping in mind the purpose of the Act to promote animal welfare.’
    • ‘They understood the purpose of the meeting was to discuss incorporating a new company.’
    • ‘The majority of his subject paintings concern childhood, frequently with a moral purpose.’
    • ‘The law says your used car must be of satisfactory quality, as described and reasonably fit for its purpose.’
    • ‘Thus the reasons for and the purpose behind a person's detention are all-important.’
    • ‘Remember that Kant emphasized formal features and the idea of purposiveness without a purpose.’
    • ‘What is reasonable in a given case depends on the purpose for which the bail is demanded.’
    • ‘The prosecution case was that the purpose of the meetings was to facilitate money laundering.’
    • ‘The student said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss how Massad could be kicked off campus.’
    • ‘They concluded in terms that she would not be prepared to attend any meeting save for the purpose of her reinstatement.’
    • ‘As we used registries created for other purposes, the data should be unbiased.’
    • ‘It is grossly unfair and it is defeating the purpose of these meetings.’
    motive, motivation, grounds, cause, impetus, occasion, reason, point, basis, justification
    intention, aim, object, objective, goal, end, plan, scheme, target
    advantage, benefit, good, use, usefulness, value, merit, worth, gain, profit, avail, result, outcome, effect
    function, role
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    1. 1.1 A person's sense of resolve or determination.
      ‘there was a new sense of purpose in her step as she set off’
      • ‘There, amid the danger and terrible conditions, he found a new sense of purpose.’
      • ‘Ball believes the high rate of share ownership has contributed to a strong sense of purpose.’
      • ‘Looking within ourselves, we are immediately aware of our own sense of purpose and destiny.’
      • ‘How he handles the tabloid tales and maintains a higher sense of purpose could be his key to a happy and fulfilled life.’
      • ‘In short it has no sense of purpose and responds to the glare of scrutiny like a deer caught in the head lights.’
      • ‘The soldiers of the Bengal Army might have been disgruntled but they were well led and were fired by a sense of purpose.’
      • ‘Duncan Smith has approached the past week with the focus and sense of purpose to be expected of a former Scots Guard.’
      • ‘It strikes me that Tunstall has two important attributes in life: sense of purpose and lack of fear.’
      • ‘There's a high degree of trust, a very high degree of camaraderie and sense of purpose.’
      • ‘A powerful sense of purpose and contemporary relevance drives the website.’
      • ‘It is a self-conscious feeling of insecurity about their own status and sense of purpose in society today.’
      • ‘It was in imparting this knowledge that teachers gained their sense of purpose.’
      • ‘There is a palpable new confidence and sense of purpose in the squad.’
      • ‘He checked into rehab, straightened out his head and re-emerged with a new sense of purpose.’
      • ‘Strong traditions can give you guidance, a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose in life.’
      • ‘Learned grown-ups and leaders have to move with a sense of purpose, in a fixed direction.’
      • ‘He appealed to the teachers to inculcate human values and a sense of purpose in life among children.’
      • ‘We need to infuse our global leadership with a new sense of purpose and lasting resolve.’
      • ‘The midfield pairing provided Rangers with a dynamic, unrelenting sense of purpose.’
      • ‘He is a great man to turn up year after year and his stamina and sense of purpose is unequalled.’
      determination, resoluteness, resolution, resolve, firmness, firmness of purpose, steadfastness, backbone, drive, push, thrust, enthusiasm, ambition, initiative, enterprise, motivation, single-mindedness, commitment, conviction, dedication
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    2. 1.2usually purposes A particular requirement or consideration, typically one that is temporary or restricted in scope or extent.
      ‘pensions are considered as earned income for tax purposes’
      • ‘Any matched donations you make will be allowed as a deduction against your profits for tax purposes.’
      • ‘The child's income is not taken into account for the purposes of the Tax Credit.’
      • ‘It is important to know whether you will be UK resident or non-resident for tax purposes.’
      • ‘You pay money out of the fund and it is deductible, and if it exceeds your income then you have a loss for tax purposes.’
      • ‘Any income or capital gain is treated for tax purposes as the child's.’
      • ‘The depreciating effect of the gift had had a beneficial effect on the estate for inheritance tax purposes.’
      • ‘You can offset the interest against the rental income for tax purposes.’
      • ‘He loved his game of cards and supported card games for charitable purposes.’
      • ‘Access to the system is restricted to the sole purposes stated in the Regulation.’
      • ‘The tax relief is treated for tax purposes as if it were a loss in a separate trade carried out by the owner.’
      • ‘For tax purposes, a company is resident in the UK and liable to UK tax if it is registered here.’
      • ‘As it is based on your National Insurance contributions it counts as your income for tax purposes.’
      • ‘This forbids politicians from using their government position for party purposes.’
      • ‘It only took three years for the government to start using them for tax purposes.’
      • ‘Can you tell me when a person aged 75 is given an extra allowance for tax purposes?’
      • ‘Railways were among the first business entities to be brought within central supervision for tax purposes.’
      • ‘At Rick's request I would like your blessing of this gift transaction for UK tax purposes.’
      • ‘That results in their New Zealand business being thinly capitalised for tax purposes.’
      • ‘The employer in turn can treat these passes as an expense for tax purposes.’
      • ‘It is allocated for employment purposes in the council's Unitary Development Plan.’


[with object]formal
  • Have as one's intention or objective.

    ‘God has allowed suffering, even purposed it’
    • ‘One is left to wonder if there is any shred of piety remaining in the one institution God purposed to be a life-long union but is being defiled at will.’
    • ‘You must repent of any callous attitude to the right use of the means God has purposed to accomplish his will.’
    • ‘Informal or intimate talk is purposed to establish and maintain social contacts with others, making social connections, developing and reinforcing intimate relationships.’
    • ‘It is asserted that God, purposing to reveal himself to persons, ‘speaks to them in human words.’’
    • ‘Situated in the heart of Lusaka's Chawama township, the Chawama Youth Project has purposed to change the lives of unemployed youths into viable self-reliant and respectable people.’
    • ‘This artful temple was purposed to inspire, still and deeply touch the traveller.’
    • ‘That is the destination he has purposed for redeemed sinners.’
    • ‘This lane is purposed to speed the transport of vehicles who were deliberate about pooling resources, and conserving time and energy.’
    intend, mean, aim, plan, design, have the intention, have in mind, have a mind
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  • on purpose

    • Intentionally.

      • ‘Trying to be annoying on purpose doesn't strike me as the pinnacle of political broadcasting.’
      • ‘Does anybody realise that buses actually drive through the traffic jams or are they coming late on purpose just to annoy you?’
      • ‘It was only later that I realised that the boy had probably done it on purpose.’
      • ‘Technically speaking, the Bhopal tragedy was an accident, in that it was not done on purpose.’
      • ‘I'm only glad that it was an accident and that he didn't do it on purpose.’
      • ‘Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.’
      • ‘Firefighters believe youths who were waiting for them on the estate had started the blazes on purpose.’
      • ‘Are we to think again that he doesn't understand the law, or did he hide some of the facts on purpose?’
      • ‘Many within the industry and in the rail driving unions stress that no train driver runs a red light on purpose.’
      • ‘The wife thought I'd done it on purpose, so I was in the doghouse for a while.’
      deliberately, intentionally, purposely, by design, wilfully, calculatedly, premeditatedly, wittingly, knowingly, consciously
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  • to no purpose

    • With no result or effect; pointlessly.

      • ‘This speculation contains three conjectures within the space of one sentence to no purpose.’
      • ‘They would simply be standing there risking their lives to no purpose.’
      • ‘They had possession of the ball in the lineouts and scrummage but to no purpose.’
      • ‘Now it has to be pursued with all vigour, usually to no purpose at all.’
      • ‘But the Chief Justice said that, if that was the case, a habeas corpus hearing could go on for weeks to no purpose.’
      • ‘She lifted her hands to push him away but to no purpose.’
      • ‘A retrial would not benefit him and would result in heavy costs being incurred and court time wasted to no purpose.’
      • ‘Your company is burning money, wasting it to no purpose other than stupidity and selfishness.’
      • ‘The military were left to fight it out to no purpose whatsoever.’
      • ‘A foot high girder ran around the edge of the building, probably just for insurance purposes, since it served next to no purpose.’
      pointless, futile, hopeless, fruitless, useless, needless, wasted, in vain, unavailing, aimless, idle, to no purpose, purposeless, worthless, meaningless, valueless, unproductive, unprofitable
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  • to the purpose

    • Relevant or useful.

      ‘you may have heard something from them that is to the purpose’
      • ‘At the commencement of the mission, all material relevant to the purpose of the mission should be made available to it, with the assistance of the organization concerned.’
      • ‘Ironically, we fear a further consequence of the legislation could be a sudden increase in the number of these guns in criminal hands, in direct opposition to the purpose of the Act.’
      • ‘An academic boycott is a political act with a political goal, and if it is unsuited to the purpose then it is bad politics.’
      • ‘Information provided needs to be accurate, current, and relevant to the purpose of the magazine.’
      • ‘Other information was not included, such as growth and development, since it was not relevant to the purpose of the case.’
      • ‘It works directly counter to the purpose of a system predicated on greater democracy and enhanced representation.’
      • ‘More emphasis should be placed on describing interventions that are particularly relevant to the purpose of the case report.’
      • ‘Each colony has access to modern technology but they are both dedicated to the purpose of reviving their respective ancient culture.’
      • ‘This title bears no relevance whatsoever to the purpose of this legislation.’
      • ‘According to this view, advertising is central to the purpose and meaning of a city street.’
      pertinent, applicable, apposite, material, apropos, to the point, germane, admissible, relevant
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Middle English: from Old French porpos, from the verb porposer, variant of proposer (see propose).