Key Difference – Meaning vs Purpose
Meaning and purpose are two words that are used interchangeably in some instances. However, it is important to note that these two words cannot be always used as synonyms. Meaning refers to what is meant or conveyed by an action, word or concept. Purpose refers to the reason for which something is done. This is the key difference between meaning and purpose.
What Does Meaning Mean
Meaning refers to something that is conveyed by a word, action or concept. It is defined by the American Heritage dictionary as “What is meant by a word, text, concept, or action” and by the Oxford dictionary as “the denotation, referent, or idea associated with a word or phrase”. You will understand the meaning of the word meaning more clearly after reading the following sentences.
The clever student quickly understood the meaning of the poem.
He pondered over the meaning of life.
This phrase has more than one meaning.
No one understood the precise meaning of his scathing remark.
A word can have two completely opposite meanings.
This old word has taken a new meaning.
They argued about the true meaning of Christmas.
Meaning can also refer to implied or explicit significance. Sometimes meaning can also be synonymous with purpose. This happens when meaning refers to the worth or value of something. For example, the meaning or purpose of life would refer to the worth or significance of life. However, these two words cannot always be used interchangeably. For instance,
There is no meaning in my life = There is no purpose in my life.
These two words have completely opposite meanings.≠ These two words have completely opposite purposes.
Some words take new meanings with the passage of time. ≠ Some words take new purposes with the passage of time
What Does Purpose Mean?
Purpose is similar to an aim or goal. The Oxford dictionary defines purpose as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. The American Heritage dictionary defines purpose as “the object toward which one strives or for which something exists”. Thus, purpose is the aim or objective behind an action. Almost all the things we do in our lives have a purpose.
Her purpose in going there is to meet the president.
The original purpose of this building was to provide shelter for travelers, but now it is being used for different purposes.
The purpose of this meeting is to appoint a new committee.
He refused to state the purpose of the meeting.
My life seems to lack purpose or meaning.
The purpose of this amusement park is to attract more customers.
The purpose of this new movement was to raise awareness of AIDS and its consequences.
What is the difference between Meaning and Purpose?
Meaning: Meaning refers to what is meant or conveyed by an action, word or concept.
Purpose: Purpose refers to reason for which something is done.
Meaning: Meaning can be used interchangeably with purpose when it refers to the worth of something.
Purpose: Purpose is sometimes used interchangeably with meaning.
Meaning: Meaning is a noun.
Purpose: Purpose is a noun, but it is also used as a verb in formal language.