Aim, Aspire, and Pant all may mean to have as a controlling desire something beyond one’s present power of attainment.
Aim stresses a clearly defined end toward which one’s efforts are directed or which one holds as a goal to be reached through endeavor or striving.
- men aiming to advance in life with glory
- Christianity aims at nothing less than absolute truth”
- get honor, and keep honor free from flaw, aim at still higher honor
Aspire, especially when followed by an infinitive, often adds little to aim except the suggestion of ambition.
- those who do not aspire to be scholars
- aspiring to be the leader of a nation of third-rate men
It may, however, imply urgency of longing for something that is high, often too high for attainment.
- since first my thirsting soul aspired to know the secrets of their wondrous world
- what I aspired to be, and was not, comforts me
Pant comes into comparison with the other words only in its extended sense of biblical origin.
- as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God
—Ps 21 A
Even more than aspire it stresses the fervor of the desire and the remoteness of that which is desired. Sometimes it connotes urgent unsatisfied thirst.
- more happy, happy love! For ever warm and still to be enjoyed, for ever panting, and for ever young
It may also suggest not the gasps of one thirsting but of one toiling upward.
- [the] Brave, and Good, and Wise, for their high guerdon not in vain have pantedl