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ob·​jec·​tive əb-ˈjek-tiv How to pronounce objective (audio)
: 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
of a test : limited to choices of fixed alternatives and reducing subjective factors to a minimum
Each question on the objective test requires the selection of the correct answer from among several choices.
: 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 sense 3a
: involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena
objective awareness
objective data
of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual
objective arthritis
compare subjective sense 4c
: relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence
used chiefly in medieval philosophy
: relating to, characteristic of, or constituting the case of words that follow prepositions or transitive verbs
The pronoun her is in the objective case in the sentence "I saw her."
objectiveness noun


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: something toward which effort is directed : an aim, goal, or end of action
: a strategic position to be attained or a purpose to be achieved by a military operation
: a lens or system of lenses that forms an image of an object
Choose the Right Synonym for 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


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

Examples of objective in a Sentence

Adjective 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
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
"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
We need someone outside the company to give us an objective analysis. an objective assessment based solely upon the results of the experiment Noun 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
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
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
… their primary objective is not the enrollment of new voters but changing the party affiliation of old voters … Lawrence King, Commonweal, 9 Oct. 1970
The main objective of the class is to teach basic typing skills. She's expanding the business with the objective of improving efficiency. We've set specific objectives for each day. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Additionally, developing clear, quantifiable performance metrics can provide an objective foundation for evaluating the effectiveness of flexible work models. Gleb Tsipursky, Fortune, 8 Nov. 2023 Evaluating Out-of-Body Experiences The AWARE study evaluated patients’ descriptions of NDEs using objective markers, such as verifying out-of-body experiences. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 2 Nov. 2023 More philosophically, the entire point of scientific polling is to root your understanding of politics in some sort of objective scientific process. G. Elliott Morris, ABC News, 26 Sep. 2023 There also is no objective standard for reacting vs. overreacting. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 5 Nov. 2023 The intention in many territories and regions is that the qualifying elements are strictly objective. Angus Finney, Variety, 30 Oct. 2023 That’s why anecdotes can’t substitute for objective research. Barry Markovsky, Discover Magazine, 29 Oct. 2023 There is no objective reason why decisions guided by domino theory are irrational and Putin’s attack on Ukraine is not. Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 As the Allies did during the Tokyo trial, U.S. leaders and their allies and partners today often describe their foreign policies as aimed at upholding a set of objective laws that can promote peace worldwide rather than as rooted in self-interest. Foreign Affairs, 20 Oct. 2023
And while Chinese state media has lauded the visit as getting the relationship back on track and positioning China and the United States as superpowers on equal footing, analysts say Xi’s main objective in California was economic. Meaghan Tobin, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Whenever these models change or optimization objectives, products, creatives or even the time of day shift, the probabilities can realign themselves. Aleks Farseev, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Last Updated: Live Coverage Feed 1 hour ago Israel Strikes Sites Inside Gaza Refugee Camp Israel’s navy hit Hamas targets in Gaza overnight, including weapons depots and military objectives inside the Al-Shati refugee camp that had been identified by ground troops, the Israel Defense Forces said. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2023 Known for his no-nonsense approach to spaceflight, Borman was razor-focused on mission objectives. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 10 Nov. 2023 Another vital metric for us all to watch over the next year will be how many more companies, organizations, and even political bodies start formalizing trust as an institutional objective. Byeamon Barrett, Fortune, 10 Nov. 2023 Highlighting and documenting trends is only one part of the hub’s overall objective. Andrea Flores, Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2023 What are the objectives of the Taiwan Creative Content Fest? Patrick Frater, Variety, 6 Nov. 2023 The Big Fund, the main financing vehicle for Beijing’s long-term semiconductor objectives, has gradually ramped up funding this year. TIME, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'objective.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from Medieval Latin objectīvus "considered in relation to its purpose, relating to an object of thought," from objectum "something presented to the mind, goal, aim" + Latin -īvus -ive — more at object entry 1


in sense 1 probably short for objective point "goal of a military operation"; in sense 2 noun derivative of objective, adjective, "nearest the object (of the parts of a lens in a telescope, microscope, etc.)," probably borrowed from French (in verre objectif "lens nearest the object") — more at objective entry 1

First Known Use


1647, in the meaning defined at sense 2d


1835, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of objective was in 1647

Dictionary Entries Near objective

Cite this Entry

“Objective.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
ob·​jec·​tive əb-ˈjek-tiv How to pronounce objective (audio)
: being outside of the mind and independent of it
objective reality
: being or belonging to the case of a noun or pronoun that is an object of a transitive verb or a preposition
: dealing with facts without letting one's feelings interfere with them
an objective judgment
objectively adverb
objectivity noun


2 of 2 noun
: a lens or system of lenses (as in a microscope) that forms an image of an object
: a goal or end of action

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
ob·​jec·​tive əb-ˈjek-tiv, äb- How to pronounce objective (audio)
: 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
objective reality
: perceptible to persons other than the affected individual
an objective symptom of disease
compare subjective sense 2b
objectively adverb


2 of 2 noun
: a lens or system of lenses that forms an image of an object
: something toward which effort is directed

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