Words related to purpose


Middle English and Anglo-French perfective prefix, corresponding to Old French por-, pur- (Modern French pour), from Vulgar Latin *por-, a variant of Latin pro "before, for" (see pro-). This is the earliest form of the prefix in English, and it is retained in some words, but in others it has been corrected to Latinate pro-.

pose (v.1)

late 14c., posen, "suggest (something is so), suppose, assume; grant, concede," from Old French poser "put, place, propose," a term in debating, from Late Latin pausare "to halt, rest, cease, pause" (source also of Italian posare, Spanish posar; see pause (v.)). The Late Latin verb also had a transitive sense, "cause to pause or rest," and hence the Old French verb (in common with cognates in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) acquired the sense of Latin ponere "to put, place" (past participle positus; see position (n.)), by confusion of the similar stems.

One of the most remarkable facts in F[rench] etymology is the extraordinary substitution whereby the Low Lat. pausare came to mean 'to make to rest, to set,' and so usurped the place of the Lat. ponere, to place, set, with which it has no etymological connection. And this it did so effectually as to restrict the F. pondre, the true equivalent of Lat. ponere, to the sense of 'laying eggs;' whilst in all compounds it completely thrust it aside, so that compausare (i.e. F. composer) took the place of Lat. componere, and so on throughout. Hence the extraordinary result, that whilst the E. verbs compose, depose, impose, propose, &c. exactly represent in sense the Lat. componere, deponere, imponere, proponere, &c., we cannot derive the E. verbs from the Lat. ones since they have (as was said) no real etymological connection. [W.W. Skeat, "Etymological Dictionary of the English Language," 1898]

The meaning "put in a certain position" in English is from early 15c. The intransitive sense of "assume a certain attitude or character" (with implications of artificiality) is from 1840; the transitive sense in reference to an artist's model, etc. is from 1850. Related: Posed; posing

propose (v.)

mid-14c., proposen, "form a design or intention;" late 14c., "put forward or offer for consideration;" from Old French proposer "propose, advance, suggest" (12c.), from pro "forth" (see pro-) + poser "put, place" (see pose (v.1)). The notion is "place before as something to be done." The French word took the place of Latin proponare (for this substitution, see pose (v.1)). The meaning "make an offer of marriage" is attested by 1764. Related: Proposed; proposing. See also propone, which coexisted with this word for a time.

repurpose (v.)

"put to a new purpose," by 1889, from re- "back, again," here perhaps "anew," + purpose (v.). Modern popularity dates from 1980s. Related: Repurposed; repurposing.

all-purpose (adj.)
"suitable for every use or occasion," 1877, from all + purpose (n.).
cross-purpose (n.)

1680s, "an opposing or counter purpose, a conflicting intention or plan," from cross- + purpose (n.). It is attested earlier as the name of a popular parlor game (1660s), and the phrase be at cross-purposes "have conflicting plans to attain the same end" (1680s) might be from the game.

multipurpose (adj.)

also multi-purpose, "serving or intended to serve more than one purpose," 1906, from multi- "many" + purpose (n.).

purposeful (adj.)

"characterized by definite aim; made or introduced on purpose," 1835, from purpose (n.) + -ful. Related: Purposefully; purposefulness.

purposeless (adj.)

"lacking use, without practical advantage, aimless," 1550s, from purpose (n.) + -less. Related: Purposelessly; purposelessness.

purposely (adv.)

"intentionally, by design," late 15c., from purpose (n.) + -ly (2).