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I know that "for all intents and purposes" is the correct saying, but I often hear/see people say/write "for all intensive purposes".

I was under the impression that the latter is completely incorrect, but when I discussed this with some friends, we could not reach an agreement.

Is "intensive purposes" considered correct even though it is a deviation from the original turn of phrase?

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have your friend watch "King of Queens" :D –  roman m Oct 22 '10 at 3:12
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's most likely a slurring of the original phrase, but "for all intensive purposes" does make it clear that only the most serious purposes are being considered.

I would probably classify it as an eggcorn.

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I have to say, though, that I like neither phrase. They seem to be most often used as longhand for "practically". –  mmyers Aug 18 '10 at 20:59
It is, indeed, a classic eggcorn. #32, even, in the eggcorn database eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/32/intensive-purposes –  nohat Aug 18 '10 at 21:37
@nohat: And thank you for introducing me to the world of eggcorns. I don't think I had ever heard the word before last week. –  mmyers Aug 18 '10 at 21:39
Both of these are stock expressions that don't mean much of anything anymore. That's probably one reason why people can use them interchangeably without noticing it. –  Alan Hogue Aug 18 '10 at 22:12
I had never heard the term eggcorn before, thanks for linking it –  cthom06 Aug 19 '10 at 11:26
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The original idiom is "intents and purposes." Intents and Purposes are both nouns in this case. With "intensive purposes" intensive is an adjective that describes the intensity of the noun purpose.

"This chainsaw is a suitable tool for the intensive purpose of cutting down this tree."


"This chainsaw serves our purpose, and is a suitable tool to carry out our intention of cutting down this tree."

Does it serve your purposes and satisfy your intents? Or does it satisfy your intensive purposes?

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