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As a noun, all three have the same meaning. What is the difference, especially between intent and intention?

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closed as general reference by Mahnax, kiamlaluno, J.R., Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, Robusto Jul 28 '12 at 22:33

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Have you checked their meanings in the dictionary? What do you find confusing? – coleopterist Jul 24 '12 at 6:06
Purpose, dating from 1250-1300 AD is, by a slim margin, the elder of intention (1300-1350 AD) and so should probably be deferred to in polite company. ;-) – Jim Jul 24 '12 at 6:14
As a noun, they both have the same meaning. I think you've sort of answered your own question. @Jim: Purpose is the elder of intention, and necessity is the mother of invention... sounds like the start of an Ogden Nash poem. – J.R. Jul 24 '12 at 8:32

The usage note on OALD tells me

purpose what somebody is trying to achieve. Your purpose for doing something is your reason for doing it.

intention what you intend to do, especially in the near future.

And intent is synonymous to intention, but more formal or used in law terms.


Our campaign's main purpose is to raise money.

He left England with the intention of travelling in Africa.

She denies possessing the drug with intent to supply.

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Does it mean that the purpose accents the result, and the intention accents the progress – Samuel Jul 25 '12 at 2:18
@Samuel Mainly it just differentiate the kind of goal/objective. Purpose defines the long-term goal, the way you go may not be clear right now but what you like to achieve. You maybe will change your strategy in future. E.g. you establish a company. intention, on the contrary, is more specific to your mind. You want to achieve particular aims, e.g. having a new job, traveling around the world, ... In both cases you take specific actions. The progress for intentions should be higher than for purpose. You want to travel now, but your company should continuously growing over years. – Em1 Jul 25 '12 at 7:21

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