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I was unable to understand the similarities and differences between intent and purport. A description will be good to understand.

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

"Purport" usually has a negative connotation of falsely conveying a certain meaning while "Intent" is more neutral.

For example,

The purport of this book is to present an objective take on abortion, although in actual fact, it leans heavily on anti-abortion viewpoints.

The intent of this book is to present an objective take on abortion.

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+1, though it bears mentioning that "purport" is more commonly found as a verb than as a noun. –  user1579 Mar 7 '11 at 17:32
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As reported from the NOAD, the meaning of the words, when used as nouns, is the following:

  • intent: intention or purpose
  • purport: the meaning or substance of something, typically a document or speech

With alarm she realized his intent.
A real intent to cut back on social programs.

I do not understand the purport of your remarks.

The meaning of purport as verb is "appear or claim to be or do something, especially falsely", "profess".

She is not the person she purports to be.

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Intent is a concept that shapes action, but it is not action.

  • My intent is to be sympathetic to her cause.
  • My intent was to hit the nail with the hammer.

Purport, as a noun, means to carry or transmit the gist of something, either literally or implicitly.

The purport of the research was given in the abstract.

As a transitive verb, purport gives voice to 3rd person hearsay (as in report) rather than direct transmission, and is usually interpreted as supposed or alleged.

  • She is purported to be an expert. (active)
  • It is purported that she is an expert. (passive)

Very interesting question about the dual meaning of purport. I'm not sure how intent is involved.

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Both your last examples are passive. "She is purported" and "it is purported" is the exact same structure. –  RegDwigнt Aug 17 '13 at 9:44
    
Purport as a noun does not mean "to do" anything. "The intended (possibly specious) meaning" would be a better definition. –  itsbruce Aug 17 '13 at 10:11
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