Intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal are comparable when meaning what one proposes to accomplish or to attain by doing or making something, in distinction from what prompts one (the motive ), or from the activity itself (the means ), or from the actual or envisioned outcome (the effect ).
The first four of these words stress the clearly defined will to do or make something.
Intention, however, often denotes little more than what one has in mind to do or to bring about.
Intent suggests clearer formulation and greater deliberateness than intention.
Purpose implies more settled determination or more resolution than intention.
Design carries further the notion of deliberateness and purposiveness in formulating an intention; in this sense it is not always clearly distinguishable from design denoting plan (see under PLAN ), for it retains the implications of careful ordering of details, of calculation, and sometimes of scheming.
Aim implies a clear definition of something that one hopes to effect and a direction of one’s efforts or energies to its attainment; thus, one who proposes to make the best of his powers and of his opportunities may be said to have a purpose in life: one who has clearly defined the mark he hopes to reach and determines his actions by it may be said to have an aim in life. The remaining words of this group, like aim, imply that what one does is affected by what one hopes to accomplish or attain.
End in this relation retains some of the suggestion of remoteness and finality inherent in some of its other senses (see LIMIT END 2 ) and therefore is appropriately applied to an aim or purpose which takes its nature from principle or logical necessity and of which the attainment requires a definite and planned course of action leading to the modification of existent reality.
Object and objective apply to an end as being that toward which effort or action or emotion (as hope) is directed.
Distinctively, object may suggest an end based on more individually determined desires, needs, or intentions while objective may suggest one which is concrete and immediately attainable or at least one which involves no obviously insurmountable problems.
Goal often evokes the image of one running a race; usually it implies struggle and endurance of hardships and cessation of effort at attainment.