Meaning of “purpose” in the English Dictionary

"purpose" in British English

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purposenoun

uk /ˈpɜː.pəs/ us /ˈpɝː.pəs/

B1 [ C ] why you do something or why something exists:

The purpose of the research is to try to 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Letters whose sole purpose is to make a political point will not be published.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 Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"purpose" in American English

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purposenoun

us /ˈpɜr·pəs/

purpose noun (REASON)

[ C/U ] an intention or aim; a reason for doing something or for allowing something to happen:

[ C ] For budgeting purposes, you really have to start estimating costs now.
[ C ] The delay really served no good purpose and may have harmed the negotiation.
on purpose

If you do something on purpose, you do it intentionally:

This is the second time in a row that he didn’t show up, and I believe he did it on purpose.

[ C/U ] Purpose is also determination:

[ U ] The project gave him a renewed sense of purpose.

purpose noun (RESULT)

[ C ] an intended result or use:

This budget is designed to meet one purpose and one purpose only, to do what is best for the economy.

(Definition of “purpose” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"purpose" in Business English

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purposenoun

uk /ˈpɜːpəs/ us

[ C ] the reason for doing something or the reason that something exists:

sb's purpose in doing sth My purpose in calling this meeting was to remind everyone of some basic rules.
with/for the purpose of (doing) sth He learnt Chinese for the express purpose of starting a business there.
I went to the conference with the sole purpose of advertising our services.
for tax/business/insurance purposes He pays himself a small salary for tax purposes.
I can see no useful purpose in speaking to him again.
You need to assure shareholders that their investment is being used to good purpose.

[ U ] determination or a feeling of having a reason for what you do:

You need a strong sense of purpose to start your own company.

[ C ] a need of a particular person or organization:

We haven't yet managed to find new premises that are suitable for our purposes.
This fabric isn't ideal, but it will serve our purposes.
on purpose

intentionally, not by accident:

I know you didn't delete the database on purpose, but please be more careful.
serve a purpose

to have a use:

These small village shops serve a very useful purpose.
be to no purpose

to be completely unsuccessful:

All my efforts were to no purpose.

(Definition of “purpose” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)