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adjective ob·jec·tive \əb-ˈjek-tiv, äb-\

Simple Definition of objective

  • : based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings

  • philosophy : existing outside of the mind : existing in the real world

  • grammar : relating to nouns, noun phrases, or pronouns that are the objects of verbs or prepositions

Full Definition of objective

  1. 1 a :  relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence —used chiefly in medieval philosophy b :  of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers :  having reality independent of the mind <objective reality> <our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff> — compare subjective 3a c of a symptom of disease :  perceptible to persons other than the affected individual — compare subjective 4c d :  involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena <objective awareness> <objective data>

  2. 2 :  relating to, characteristic of, or constituting the case of words that follow prepositions or transitive verbs

  3. 3 a :  expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations <objective art> <an objective history of the war> <an objective judgment> b of a test :  limited to choices of fixed alternatives and reducing subjective factors to a minimum

ob·jec·tive·ly adverb
ob·jec·tive·ness noun
ob·jec·tiv·i·ty play \ˌäb-ˌjek-ˈti-və-tē, əb-\ noun

Examples of objective

  1. For no matter how objective Server tries to appear in detailing the highs and lows of her 67 years—the three marriages, the numerous affairs, the binges, the nightlong cruising of low-life byways and bordellos, the mainly poor movies she was in—he cannot really hide his essential fondness for her. —Peter Bogdanovich, New York Times Book Review, 23 Apr. 2006

  2. I'm not going to read the history about it while I'm alive because I don't trust short-term history. Most historians wouldn't have voted for me, so I don't think they can write an objective history. —George W. Bush, quoted in Time, 6 Sept. 2004

  3. “I'm not really a Hollywood person,” said Mr. [Clint] Eastwood, who lives mostly in Carmel. “Not that I don't like L.A., but I'm just a Northern California guy. And it's very hard to be objective about what you're doing in a town that's all consumed by the entertainment business.” —Bernard Weinraub,New York Times, 6 Aug. 1992

  4. We need someone outside the company to give us an objective analysis.

  5. <an objective assessment based solely upon the results of the experiment>


First Known Use of objective


Synonym Discussion of objective

material, physical, corporeal, phenomenal, sensible, objective mean of or belonging to actuality. material implies formation out of tangible matter; used in contrast with spiritual or ideal it may connote the mundane, crass, or grasping <material values>. physical applies to what is perceived directly by the senses and may contrast with mental, spiritual, or imaginary <the physical benefits of exercise>. corporeal implies having the tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, or resistance to force <artists have portrayed angels as corporeal beings>. phenomenal applies to what is known or perceived through the senses rather than by intuition or rational deduction <scientists concerned with the phenomenal world>. sensible stresses the capability of readily or forcibly impressing the senses <the earth's rotation is not sensible to us>. objective may stress material or independent existence apart from a subject perceiving it <no objective evidence of damage>.

fair, just, equitable, impartial, unbiased, dispassionate, objective mean free from favor toward either or any side. fair implies a proper balance of conflicting interests <a fair decision>. just implies an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper <a just settlement of territorial claims>. equitable implies a less rigorous standard than just and usually suggests equal treatment of all concerned <the equitable distribution of the property>. impartial stresses an absence of favor or prejudice <an impartial third party>. unbiased implies even more strongly an absence of all prejudice <your unbiased opinion>. dispassionate suggests freedom from the influence of strong feeling and often implies cool or even cold judgment <a dispassionate summation of the facts>. objective stresses a tendency to view events or persons as apart from oneself and one's own interest or feelings <I can't be objective about my own child>.



noun ob·jec·tive \əb-ˈjek-tiv, äb-\

Simple Definition of objective

  • : something you are trying to do or achieve : a goal or purpose

Full Definition of objective

  1. 1 :  a lens or system of lenses that forms an image of an object

  2. 2 a :  something toward which effort is directed :  an aim, goal, or end of action b :  a strategic position to be attained or a purpose to be achieved by a military operation

Examples of objective

  1. The first objective of the low-intensity war was to “bleed” India so that it would cut its losses and quit. —Pervez Hoodbhoy, Prospect, June 2003

  2. The Orange Plan assumed an early Japanese capture of the Philippines, and made relief of the Philippines the main U.S. objective. —David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999

  3. The President had largely stuck to his publicly stated goals—though the objective of smashing Iraq's military machine hadn't been so clear. —Elizabeth Drew, New Yorker, 6 May 1991

  4. … their primary objective is not the enrollment of new voters but changing the party affiliation of old voters … —Lawrence King, Commonweal, 9 Oct. 1970

  5. The main objective of the class is to teach basic typing skills.

  6. She's expanding the business with the objective of improving efficiency.

  7. We've set specific objectives for each day.


First Known Use of objective


Synonym Discussion of objective

intention, intent, purpose, design, aim, end, object, objective, goal mean what one intends to accomplish or attain. intention implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about <announced his intention to marry>. intent suggests clearer formulation or greater deliberateness <the clear intent of the statute>. purpose suggests a more settled determination <being successful was her purpose in life>. design implies a more carefully calculated plan <the order of events came by accident, not design>. aim adds to these implications of effort directed toward attaining or accomplishing <her aim was to raise film to an art form>. end stresses the intended effect of action often in distinction or contrast to the action or means as such <willing to use any means to achieve his end>. object may equal end but more often applies to a more individually determined wish or need <his constant object was the achievement of pleasure>. objective implies something tangible and immediately attainable <their objective is to seize the oil fields>. goal suggests something attained only by prolonged effort and hardship <worked years to reach her goals>.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up objective? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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