According to definition #1 of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language the purpose is: The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal.

Definition #7 of scope in Collins English Dictionary , explains scope as purpose or aim.

According to Collins English Dictionary, definition #3: the area covered by an activity, topic, etc; range.

I understand that the context will help us to distinguish which sense is appropriate:

  1. The scope of this work is vast. Here is the meaning #3 from Collins.
  2. The scope of this work is to describe… Here is the meaning #7 from Collins.

My question is: which meaning should I choose for the word scope in Directive 2009/125/EC , page 5, article 1, Subject matter and scope.

Is the meaning of purpose, goal? If so, is the scope more formal than purpose or goal since it is used in official documents? Why then it’s defined this way only at definition #7?

Edit: In my language we have only one word to describe objective, aim goal, target, etc. It’s “SCOP” from Greek skopos, or Latin scopus.

  • What about including one more dictionary! OALD: scope - the range of things that a subject, an organization, an activity, etc. deals with.
    – Maulik V
    May 19, 2014 at 9:14
  • Let me tell you -if it is subject matter and scope I am pretty sure it means what I described in my answer with OALD definition. I'm now not sure what you think about it.
    – Maulik V
    May 19, 2014 at 9:53
  • 2
    You may ignore definitions of scope as "purpose" and the like; this is an archaic use which has not been common since the 19th century. May 19, 2014 at 10:36
  • @StoneyB, Thank you! Then they are right and I am wrong! I could never ever have believed it! May 19, 2014 at 10:41
  • 1
    It happens to the best of us. I was wrong once in 1973 :) May 19, 2014 at 11:30

3 Answers 3


No. scope in this context is not a 'goal' as you think.

Scope here simply means...

scope: the range of things that a subject, an organization, an activity, etc. deals with.

If I'm talking about scope of Enterprise Mobility in the context of mobile apps development, it'd include its analysis, future scope (how is it in the future?), research, profitability and lot more things associated with the main topic and its reason to discuss.

Extending my example further, to address the title of your question, the purpose of presenting Enterprise Mobility could be creating awareness or simply marketing our mobile app services.

Clearly, purpose and scope are different.

  • @LucianSava Hey, never mind. Also, down-voting is wholeheartedly accepted if the answer is incorrect/crap or unsatisfying. But I stand by my words, scope is not goal! and in your context with subject matter, it certainly means that! :)
    – Maulik V
    May 19, 2014 at 9:54
  • Thanks to StoneyB I did the right thing now +1 for both of you May 19, 2014 at 10:46

Lets get the definitions cleared up first -

Purpose- It is the reason or aim for which something is done.

Scope- Scope refers to the extent of area or range a matter is dealt with.

Lets clear it further by using some examples -

The purpose behind my studies is to achieve good marks.

Here, the aim or reason behind my studying is to attain good marks, hence my purpose is justified.

Now as for scope-

Question: What is the scope of taking up computer science?

In the above question, someone asks that what is the scope of doing CS? or in our defined meaning, To what extend employment opportunities may be generated after doing CS?

Answer: Computer science has a very vast scope, one may do this and that and whatnot.

In the above answer we define as to how vast the scope of CS is by enlisting various fields of employment.

  • 1
    @LucianSava Could you perhaps then tell me where you have difficulty? in the meaning part or the usage in your article part? In your article it will be scope because we talk about the long term objectives of the given subject.
    – Invoker
    May 19, 2014 at 9:41

In many language scope has the same meaning as pupose: aim;target;goal For an easy understanding scope should be seen as the scope of a rifle (which comes from telescope) - the area you can see through the telescope; the purpose is the aim - bullseye or target.

  • The area you can see through a telescope is called the field. In the context of the OP's question, scope refers to the boundaries of the activity.
    – Chenmunka
    Jun 5, 2015 at 9:50

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