In a vocab quiz, the teachers wanted us to write a paragraph about companies by using some given words. Well, the topic was not that much general but it's not that important. The one of the words was ''destination''. I made a sentence as ''The destination of companies is to create profit.'' By this, I have tried to say ''The aim/purpose/goal of companies is to create profit.'' However, my dear teacher said that the word destination is a quite physical thing, so I should not have used the word destination to express purpose. Even though I said that I used the word in a metaphoric style, she did not accept my explanation. Of course, unless a person is a master in a language or is a native speaker, attempt of using words in a metaphoric sense may result in very badly. But really, cannot we use the word destination for expressing purpose?

  • You can use any word, in any metaphor you want - whether anyone understands or appreciates that metaphor is another matter. But the purpose of a vocabulary test is to assess whether you understand words as they are typically used.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 15:28
  • What you need is a good English dictionary, like Merriam Webster or Oxford English. Look carefully through all the different usages and examples. Then you may find an answer to your own question and could amend your question in the light of what you find. That is how Stack Exchange is supposed to work. You might then be starting quite an interesting discussion. Off the top of my head, there may be a kind of rhetorical use similar to the context you presented. But we shall see.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


Destination has been used historically in a more abstract way to refer to one's purpose or end goal. Here are two examples from the Oxford English Dictionary:

1795 Christian in Blackstone's Comm. (1809) IV. 82 Sending intelligence to the enemy of the destinations and designs of this kingdom, in order to assist them in their operations against us..is high treason.

1876 J. B. Mozley Serm. preached Univ. of Oxf. xiii. 235 A destination above the objects, the employments, and the abilities of this world.

"Destinations and designs" means the plans and goals of the kingdom; a "destination above" the things of the world could be living a virtuous life or heaven.

However, this usage is not usual today. Here is the next definition in the OED:

  1. spec. The fact of being destined or bound for a particular place; hence, short for place of destination, the place for which a person or thing is destined; the intended end of a journey or course. (Now the usual sense.)

Today, destination customarily refers to a place rather than a goal. Less comprehensive dictionaries like Cambridge and Merriam-Webster privilege the destination-as-place definition, either by omitting mention of the other definition or by focusing its examples on uses of destination that refer to places.

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