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?


3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    I have to say, though, that I like neither phrase. They seem to be most often used as longhand for "practically".
    – mmyers
    Aug 18, 2010 at 20:59
  • 5
    It is, indeed, a classic eggcorn. #32, even, in the eggcorn database eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/32/intensive-purposes
    – nohat
    Aug 18, 2010 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, 2010 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, 2010 at 22:12

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?


"For all intensive purposes" is wrong. It was first written by someone who heard the phrase "for all intents and purposes" incorrectly. That is, it's something people who have misheard "for all intents and purposes" but who have never seen it written, have started using. It's meaning - to the extent it has any meaning - would be nearly opposite of the meaning of "for all intents and purposes." For all intents and purposes means, basically, "amounts to." For all intents and purposes, they're married, means that they may not have a marriage certificate, but they behave and live as a married couple. "Intensive purposes," to the extent it makes any sense at all, would be limited to a subset of purposes, i.e. those that are most intensive (whatever that might mean) rather than for "all" purposes and all applications, i.e. intents.

  • This answer has already been given.
    – tchrist
    Jul 9, 2014 at 20:36

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