noun \ ˈgōl , chiefly Northern US especially in senses 3b and 2a also ˈgül \
|Updated on: 11 Aug 2018

Definition of goal

1 : the end toward which effort is directed : aim
  • The goal is high-speed rail travel.
2 a : an area or object toward which players in various games attempt to advance a ball or puck and usually through or into which it must go to score points
b : the act or action of causing a ball or puck to go through or into such a goal
c : the score resulting from such an act
3 a : the terminal point of a race
b : an area to be reached safely in children's games


intransitive verb


play \ˈgō(l)-ləs\ adjective

Examples of goal in a Sentence

  1. He set a goal for himself of exercising at least three times a week.

  2. Her primary goal is to get a college degree.

  3. We all share a common goal.

  4. She pursued her goal of starting her own business.

  5. The company has instituted several new policies with the goal of reducing waste.

  6. Last month he had 10 goals and six assists.

  7. She scored the winning goal in the game's final minute.

Recent Examples of goal from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'goal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of goal

Middle English gol boundary, limit

goal Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of goal

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

Other Field and Goal Sports Terms

GOAL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of goal for English Language Learners

  • : something that you are trying to do or achieve

  • : an area or object into which a ball or puck must be hit, kicked, etc., to score points in various games (such as soccer and hockey)

  • : the act of hitting, kicking, etc., a ball or puck into a goal or the score that results from doing this

GOAL Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈgōl \

Definition of goal for Students

1 : purpose
  • What is your goal in life?
2 : an area or object into which a ball or puck must be driven in various games in order to score
3 : a scoring of one or more points by driving a ball or puck into a goal
4 : the point at which a race or journey is to end
5 : an area to be reached safely in certain games

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very hard to disturb or upset

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