Propose vs. Purpose

Propose or Purpose – What’s the difference?

Propose and purpose get confused with each other more often than you might think. The words are so similar that people just assume that they are the same or use the wrong word on accident. There are several differences between the words that go beyond just the spelling.

Propose Meaning and Usage

The word propose comes from Old French roots pro and poser. Pro means “forth” and poser means put and place. The word was first used in the 1700s to refer to asking one’s hand for marriage.

There are four main definitions for the word propose. First, it means to suggest an idea or a plan. During a business meeting, you propose a way to cut the budget and save money.

Next, propose means to offer marriage. When someone proposes to another person, they usually do so with a ring, getting down on one knee, and asking them to get married.

Another definition of the word propose is to say a toast. Most commonly during weddings, someone will stand up and propose a toast to the newlyweds.

Finally, propose means to intend or plan to do something. When you say that you are going to buy a new car, you propose your intention to purchase a car.

Does anyone have anything to propose for this project?

He decided to propose to her on their vacation to the Bahamas.

Did you just propose buying a brand-new car for your teen?

Purpose Meaning and Usage

The word purpose also comes from Old French. The word started as proposer, changed to porpos, then landed at purpose in the English language.

Purpose also has multiple meanings, but none of them relate to the meanings of propose. First, purpose refers to doing something with an end goal. The purpose of creating an advertisement is to increase sales and revenue.

Purpose also means to do something intentionally. When you throw trash directly in the trash can, you are doing it on purpose. The opposite of this definition is to do something on accident. For example, you meant to throw the trash in the trash can, but you accidentally missed, and it hit the ground instead.

Finally, purpose means to have the determination to do something. When you choose your career at a young age and work towards it your whole life, that career is your purpose.

The investigation showed that the house was set on fire on purpose.

Ever since she was little, her purpose was to become a vet and she worked very hard to make it happen.

I didn’t trip you on purpose, I swear.

Are Purpose and Propose Synonyms?

These words are not considered synonyms and shouldn’t be used in place of each other. When you use one or the other, it is important to make sure you are using the right word, so you don’t confuse everybody.

When you know what the differences are, you will have a better understanding of which word to use when. Below are a few tips to remember when and how you are supposed to use each word.

When you are discussing bringing up a new idea to a group, you will use the word propose. When you are discussing the reason you are doing something, you will use purpose.

You will also use the word propose when you are explaining that you or one of your friends got engaged to be married. The idea of marriage was proposed and was accepted.

Purpose also refers to your end goal for your life. For example, if you want to be a doctor, that is your purpose.