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Note 352 – The phrase ‘for all intents and purposes’

According to, ‘for all intents and purposes’ means “In effect; for all practical purposes” and although the phrase’s exact origin isn’t clear, it has been around since the time of Henry VIII (16th century). They also say that the phrase was originally known as ‘to all intents and purposes’, but “it is ‘for all intents and purposes’ that is now more widely used”. says that it was probably used in the legal system as a slightly longer phrase “for all intents, constructions and purposes”. They also quite rightly pointed out that the word ‘intents’ doesn’t need to be plural because you could say “it was her intent to go outside” (for singular) or “it was their intent to go outside” (for plural).

An example of when you might use this phrase is when something is ‘more or less true’ or ‘true in effect’. e.g. “For all intents and purposes Chloe was the manager, even though she hadn’t formally been promoted”.

For all ‘intensive’ purposes

The phrase ‘for all intensive purposes’ is occasionally used in place of ‘for all intents and purposes’; however, it is incorrect. There is much debate over this with the many examples printed – an example of this misprint can be found in the Indiana newspaper The Fort Wayne Daily Gazette as early as May 1870 (source:

Is ‘for all intents and purposes’ a phrase you use?

Until tomorrow…

14 days to go on My Writing Challenge…


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer



  1. Pingback: Note 353 – Is it ‘formally’ or ‘formerly’? « My writing challenge - April 17, 2012

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