The Meaning of Purview: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused about the definition of purview? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word purview, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word purview mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Dictionary, the word purview is a noun that means some range of operation or authority, or vision, insight, or understanding. The term purview is also used in law to refer to the extent of which some statute is enacted, or the purpose of said statute. This term can also refer to the full scope of any such document, statement or book. This term is usually used to refer to the scope of something, and can be used generally outside of law practices. For example, one could discuss the purview of their upcoming marketing campaign for a client, which would discuss the scope that their campaign is going to cover. 

There are also many different languages that use words that mean purview. These words may look different from the word purview because different languages have different roots and origins. This list of translations for the word purview is provided by Word Sense.

  • Estonian: ulatus‎
  • German: Umfang‎, Bereich‎ (masc.), Umgebung‎ (masc.), Rahmen‎ (masc.), Feld‎ (neut.), Raum‎ (masc.), Gebiet‎ (neut.)
  • Portuguese: âmbito‎ (masc.), escopo‎ (masc.)
  • Hebrew: היקף‎ (heikef)
  • Dutch: domein‎, bereik‎, reikwijdte‎
  • Turkish: kapsam‎
  • Russian: масшта́б‎ (masc.), преде́л‎ (masc.), разма́х‎ (masc.), рамка‎, сфе́ра‎ (fem.)
  • Maori: korahi‎, kainga‎
  • Czech: rozsah‎ (masc.)
  • Swedish: omfattning‎
  • Irish: scóp‎ (masc.)
  • Finnish: ulottuvuus‎, ala‎, laajuus‎
  • French: portée‎ (fem.)
  • Italian: ambito‎ (masc.)
  • Spanish: ámbito‎ (masc.)

What are synonyms of purview?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word purview. These are considered synonyms, which are words that have the same definition as a given word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you want to avoid repeating yourself and if you want to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word purview is provided by Thesaurus.

  • amplitude
  • range
  • picture
  • sight
  • area
  • neighborhood
  • realizing
  • knowledge
  • sweep
  • attitude
  • ken
  • gamut
  • bounds
  • domain
  • space
  • grasp
  • run
  • apprehending
  • judgment
  • latitude
  • light
  • field
  • width
  • reach
  • province
  • length
  • scope
  • cognizance
  • attention
  • diapason
  • tune
  • radius
  • horizon
  • consciousness
  • earshot
  • notion
  • matter
  • dimension
  • expanse
  • idea
  • hearing
  • impression
  • realm
  • run of
  • orbit
  • insight
  • panorama
  • sphere
  • swing
  • parameters
  • confines
  • concept
  • comprehension
  • stretch
  • sense
  • order
  • extent
  • extension
  • acumen
  • circle
  • spectrum
  • limits
  • vision
  • recognition
  • play
  • understanding
  • magnitude
  • compass
  • vicinity
  • extensity
  • apprehension
  • awareness
  • spread
  • ambit
  • leeway
  • span
  • dimensions
  • elbowroom
  • territory

What is the origin of the word purview?

According to Etymonline, the word purview has been used since the mid-15th century. In law, this was written as the Middle English purveu, which meant some body of a statute or substance of an act. This word comes from the Anglo-French purveu est, meaning “it is provided,” or purveu que, meaning “provided that.” Both of these French phrases have been sued since the late 13th century. This was used in different clauses that introduced statutes in antiquated legal documents, which came from the Anglo-French purveu and Old French porveu, which was later adopted into the Modern French porvu, meaning :provided.” This is the past participle of purveier, meaning “to provide.” Porveoir comes from the Latin providere, meaning to look ahead or prepare. This comes from the prefix pro meaning ahead and the root word videre meaning to see. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European root weid meaning to see. The word purview has been used to mean scope or extent since the 1788 “Federalist” by Madison. This was adopted into the modern spelling under influence from the word view. Related words to purview include the verb purvey. 

How can the word purview be used in a sentence?

The word purview can be used in numerous different contexts, legal and otherwise, to refer to the range or scope of something. In this first example, Mia and Holly are discussing the duties that Mia will be responsible for in her new position at her company. 

Holly: Mia! Congratulations on your promotion! I’m so proud of you. What are you going to be doing in your new position?

Mia: Thank you! My new role is as a development coordinator, so the purview of my position includes coming up with ideas for new projects, finding collaborators, and a whole lot more that I’m not even quite sure of yet! I am very excited.

Holly: That is so exciting. You’re going to be amazing!

In this example, Mia uses the word purview to refer to the scope of her new position at the company. In the next example, Holly will use the word purview to describe to her class of students what they will be learning in the next semester.

Holly: Welcome to a new semester of United States history, my friends. In this semester, the purview of our curriculum will include the 20th century. We will study this through March and then we will begin to review everything we have learned to prepare all of you for the advanced placement exams at the end of the school year.

Student: Ugh, this seems like a lot.

Holly: I’m not going to lie to you, it is a lot. But I believe you are all fully competent and that you can all pass the advanced placement exam.

Here, Holly uses the term purview to refer to the scope of United States history that her class will cover in the upcoming semester.

Overall, the word purview can either refer to the scope of a statute, the enacting part of a statute, or more generally, the range of interest or range of vision of some statement, document, or other entity.