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Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large
"Intent" and "intention"
Friday May 15th 2009
Question
"Intent" and "intention"
Answer

Intent and intention share meanings and overlap in use, but they are not completely interchangeable.

Both words mean "the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose."

 

Often they can be used interchangeably:

 

She thinks I'm trying to make things difficult for her, but that's not my intent/intention.

It was the explicit intent/intention of the architect to suggest a church steeple.

The president signaled his intent/intention to meet with his allies.

 

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Intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or make happen:

 

He announced his intention to marry.

It was not my intention to hurt your feelings.

I had every intention to pay my bills yesterday.

 

 

==

 

However, intent suggests clear reasoning or great deliberateness and is used in more formal, legal, or official-sounding language:

 

the clear intent of the court's ruling

Moscow's intent is to exploit the riches and technology of the West.

The prosecutor needs to demonstrate criminal intent.

 

 

 

 

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