Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “purpose”

See all translations

purpose

noun uk   /ˈpɜː.pəs/ us    /ˈpɝː-/
B1 [C] why you do something or why something exists: The purpose of the research is to try and find out more about the causes of the disease. His only purpose in life seems to be to enjoy himself. Her main/primary purpose in suing the newspaper for libel was to clear her name. I came to Brighton for/with the express purpose of seeing you. Letters whose sole purpose is to make a political point will not be published. She had the operation entirely for cosmetic purposes. a multi-purpose kitchen knife I can see no useful purpose in continuing this conversation. All my efforts were to no purpose (= failed). He gave her a sum of money which she used to good purpose (= well).on purpose B1 If you do something on purpose, you do it intentionally, not by accident: I didn't do it on purpose - it was an accident.C2 [U] determination or a feeling of having a reason for what you do: I've always admired her for her strength of purpose. Parenthood would give him a sense of purpose. [C] a need: We haven't yet managed to find new premises that are suitable for our purposes. The fabric I bought isn't exactly what I wanted, but it will serve my purposes (= fulfil my needs).serve a purpose C2 to have a use: These small village shops serve a very useful purpose.
More examples
(Definition of purpose from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of purpose?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “purpose” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

be as cold as ice

to be extremely cold

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More