intents and purposes » intensive purposes

Chiefly in:   for all intensive purposes

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • I know there is more to it then that, but for all intensive purposes it makes more sense to use what we already have as opposed to rewriting the whole damn thing, right? (Dev Shed Java help forum)

Analyzed or reported by:

Allan Hazlett at useandmisuse [writes](…)

> I was one of the few who, upon learning (fairly late in life, I recall) that “for all intensive purposes” is a malapropism, was not embarassed that I had spent to many years not saying “for all intents and purposes,” but rather lamented the fact that “for all intensive purposes” was not an expression in English. It seemed so well to capture what I meant when I uttered it - when we consider only those purposes that are intensive, that’s the sense in which this is a good idea. It’s a good idea for all intensive purposes, but not for some of your other purposes that aren’t so intensive.

The makings of a true eggcorn: it just makes sense.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2004/12/09 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Steven J. O’Connor , 2005/03/04 at 6:21 pm

    My sister uses that malaprop so often. We accept it in our home.

  2. 2

    Commentary by kechambers , 2005/03/22 at 2:35 am

    I just received an email announcement about fresh maple syrup that included the following sentence:

    “It [the syrup] is all natural from trees on land which is, for all intensive purposes, organic, though not certified.”

    This reminded me of your database….

  3. 3

    Commentary by Arnold Zwicky , 2005/04/07 at 8:14 pm

    Common enough that it makes its way into Joanne Feierman’s ActionGrammar, not in the “Top Ten Errors in Speaking and Writing”, but in the second tier, “Twenty More Language Pet Peeves” (illustrated on p. 26, in the alphabetical listings on p. 212); still, it’s in the chapter “Mistakes Your Boss Minds the Most”.

    Fiske’s The Dictionary of Disagreeable English lists it too (p. 136), along with the variant “for all intense purposes” (for which Fiske gives two unattributed examples).

  4. 4

    Commentary by Steve Pinkston , 2005/06/20 at 6:58 pm

    From a blog entry:

    “I’m married to a man, who for all intense and purposes, is quite different than I on many things. ”

    I’ve seen many, many examples of the phrase, “for all intense and purposes” in personal as well as corporate communications. While I can see a logical path for “intensive purposes,” “intense and purposes” seems to just be thoughtless corruption of a commonly heard phrase.

  5. 5

    Commentary by Erin , 2005/09/22 at 3:13 pm

    Just came across another example of “for all intensive purposes” here:

    I first read Upton Sinclair’s 1905 novel “The Jungle” about seven years ago. The author, a dedicated socialist during the turbulent times of industrial upheaval in America, wrote this novel to show the American public how bad the working conditions actually were in the packinghouses of Chicago. He also hoped to expose the poor treatment of immigrants and the shameless greed of big business. For all intensive purposes, Sinclair did succeed in raising awareness about the dangers of eating canned beef and other meat products that supposedly underwent rigorous government inspection and quality controls.

  6. 6

    Commentary by IAP , 2005/10/08 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the discussion - I just won a bet with my girlfriend!!! Free body massage, yoh!!! “Intensive Purpose” that!!!

  7. 7

    Commentary by jouster , 2006/01/04 at 1:17 pm

    I can’t give Allan Hazlett’s opinion very much weight. He writes that he was “…..embarassed that I had spent to many years…..”

    To,too,two anyone?

  8. 8

    Commentary by Maddie , 2006/04/03 at 8:34 pm

    I am 40 and hold a master’s degree (music) and I too have felt very important, indeed grave at times, each time I made the pronouncement “for all intensive purposes…”. It is only when watching Star Trek TNG in reruns with the closed captioning on that I noted Data using the phrase “all intents and purposes”, which prompted the Google search leading me to this discussion.

    My hope is the next time I am rambling in front of a group of people about something very important, I use “intents and…” and not “intensive”. Jeeze.

  9. 9

    Commentary by edemami , 2006/06/29 at 12:57 am

    my boyfriend and i were debating the expression: it was either ‘for all intensive purposes’ or ‘for all intended purposes’. it was refreshing to discover that we were BOTH wrong. we were subsequently enlightened. it is a common mistake, apparently, and has little or nothing to do with not reading enough. my boyfriend is an engineering major and i’m getting my phd, so we both read far more than the average person. it is a simple misappropriation of the language and, unfortunately, also evidence of its deterioration. free body massage for both of us… :)

  10. 10

    Commentary by Carol , 2006/07/05 at 11:01 pm

    For some reason, “for all intensive purposes” is one that has always made me cringe. I overlook the odd “irregardless.” I meander through double, triple, or quadruple negatives, and figure out what people are meaning to say. I get it. But “Intensive purposes” is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I had always read it correctly in novels and textbooks, so it threw me when I started seeing it incorrectly.

  11. 11

    Commentary by Andrew Watson , 2006/07/07 at 1:56 pm

    “I’m married to a man, who for all intense and purposes, is quite different than I on many things. “

    This is wrong for many reasons.
    I think that “quite different to me” would be better, but even then, “quite different to me on many things” doesn’t really make sense either. And what “intents and purposes” has to do with anything is beyond me.
    This is beyond repair I’m afraid.

  12. 12

    Commentary by jedclampet , 2006/08/10 at 4:19 pm

    jouster– the ‘to’ was prolaby a typo.

  13. 13

    Commentary by Jane Simpson , 2006/08/15 at 12:10 pm

    I found ‘for all intensive purposives’ in a student’s essay last week - Australian student in Australia. First time I’d come across it.

  14. 14

    Commentary by sb , 2006/08/21 at 6:33 pm

    “Intensive purposes” does indeed drive me crazy, but I’ve just heard a new variation on the subject. A friend of mine recently swore up and down to me that the phrase was “for all intrinsic purposes,” even going so far as to offer to call her mother up and have her tell it to me “correctly.” I’d never heard that one before.

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