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The phrase "for all intents and purposes" seems redundant and circular to me, because of the overlap of the meanings of the individual words:

intend: have in mind as what one wishes to do or achieve.

purpose: intended result of effort.

The thing that one wishes to do or achieve is the intended result of the effort. Thus saying the same thing twice. Is this done for emphasis as in the phrase "last and final call"?

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(It sposta be for all intensive purposes, but it often gets misheard :-) –  John Lawler Dec 13 '13 at 19:18
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@JohnLawler Sez who? –  bib Dec 13 '13 at 19:50
    
Intend a purpose that clearly objectifies your goal. –  Ice Boy Dec 13 '13 at 20:03
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The Eggcorn Data Base, that's who. At least for a lot of people. For them, what I said is the case; for others it's not. Idioms have no single source, and after the paint is worn away, it's hard to trace the DNA. –  John Lawler Dec 13 '13 at 20:20
    
-1 This is not one of those cases where synonyms or near-synonyms are paired either for emphasis or as ample precaution. Intent and purpose do not mean the same thing at all, not even close. –  Kris Dec 14 '13 at 6:29

2 Answers 2

From the ridiculous: Tom Selleck as "Quigley," in the film "Quigley Down Under":

"for sure and for certain,"

to the sublime: Moses, in Genesis 2:17 -

"The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die'" (my emphasis).

Ancient Hebrew contains merisms such as the one in the above verse from the Bible. It denotes a set, as it were, encompassing the two extremes and everything in between. In other words, the whole gamut of __. It's a sort of all-inclusive locution, much like "for all intents and purposes."

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Emphasis as you say, and also for a sense of completeness and covering all cases; should there be any doubt as to whether something could perhaps be only considered an intent or only a purpose then it's clearly included in the phrase!

Such doubling up is common in older English idioms ("wrack and ruin") especially in legal phrases ("cease and desist", "aid and abet") and some which originate from legal contexts and have since acquired a more colloquial meaning ("all and sundry").

It's been suggested that the origin is in the tendency to once double up charges, demands and other important points of legal business with both the Anglo Saxon and the Norman, and that this remained after the English merged on the common language of Middle English. There would also be legal terms in Latin being sometimes translated and sometimes not. However, many of the words in such expressions are of the same origin, rather than one being Old English and the other Norman French.

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