noun, often attributive
tar·get | \ˈtär-gət \

Definition of target 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a mark to shoot at

b : a target marked by shots fired at it

c : something or someone fired at or marked for attack

d : a goal to be achieved

2a : an object of ridicule or criticism

b : something or someone to be affected by an action or development

3a : the metallic surface (as of platinum or tungsten) upon which the stream of electrons within an X-ray tube is focused and from which the X-rays are emitted

b : a body, surface, or material bombarded with nuclear particles or electrons especially : fluorescent material on which desired visual effects are produced in electronic devices (as in radar)

4 : a small round shield

off target

: not valid : inaccurate

on target

: precisely correct or valid especially in interpreting or addressing a problem or vital issue


targeted; targeting; targets

Definition of target (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make a target of targeted her for promotion especially : to set as a goal

2 : to direct or use toward a target

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Examples of target in a Sentence


Our target amount for the fund-raiser is $2,500. They set a target date of May 31. Planes struck at key military targets. Tourists are often easy targets for thieves.


drugs that target cancer cells
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The man, who was not the target of the attack, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where his condition had stabilized. Chicago Tribune,, "Boy, 16, fatally shot on the Northwest Side among four shot in drive-bys Saturday night," 14 July 2018 The Europeans are also targets of Mr Trump’s trade offensive. The Economist, "In its trade war with America, China dials down the hype," 12 July 2018 Pennsylvania’s system of electing rather than appointing judges has long been a target of criticism. Liz Navratil,, "Pa. Supreme Court justices got more than $180K in donations from law firms in clergy abuse case, records show," 11 July 2018 Fekir, currently in Russia at the World Cup with his national team France, was the target of intense media speculation before the tournament., "Liverpool Legend Hopeful Over Deal for Reds Transfer Target as Support for New Man Naby Keita," 10 July 2018 Carrasco was the target of a 2011 lawsuit by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office that accused her of misrepresenting herself as an immigration attorney and taking money from clients without providing services. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Group calls on Waukegan officials to denounce, stop associating with local activist," 10 July 2018 This isn't the first time Kardashian has been the target of mom-shaming. Emily Wang, Allure, "Kourtney Kardashian Responds to Fan Who Mom-Shamed Her Bikini Photo," 9 July 2018 About a month after the incidents in Surprise, Sangiovanni alleged Ventura was the target of a second threat back in Kansas City. Vahe Gregorian And Maria Torres, kansascity, "Yordano Ventura’s final year filled with family turmoil, emotional distress," 6 July 2018 Download an app Because cell phones are the latest target of telemarketing, developers have been hard at work creating a suite of tools to deflect and block robocalls. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "4 ways to stop robocalls as spammers target cell phones," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

More indictments prove, yet again, that hostile Russian actors targeted Americans with sophisticated crimes in 2016. Rebecca Shabad /, NBC News, "Democrats call on Trump to cancel Putin summit after Russian hacking indictments," 13 July 2018 The robberies were similar in that each time a group of two to four people targeted Latino men, Tellis said. Julianna Rennie, charlotteobserver, "Seven Latino men were robbed in ‘targeted’ incidents over two-day period, CMPD says," 12 July 2018 As part of that effort, Russian hackers targeted at least 21 states ahead of the election and are believed to have breached the voter registration system in at least one, Illinois, investigators say. Geoff Mulvihill,, "No signs Russia targeting elections like 2016, US official says," 14 July 2018 The two will star in State of the Union, a project from Nick Hornby that's targeting episodes around 10 minutes in length. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Rosamund Pike, Chris O'Dowd to Star in 10-Minute Sitcom From Nick Hornby," 13 July 2018 The court filings allege that Russian hackers targeted more than 300 officials in the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign with spearphishing attempts to access their email accounts. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Truth Without Consequences," 13 July 2018 Watch out for fraudsters impersonating customer service Scammers are even targeting Amazon customers who want to reach customer service. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Amazon Prime Day: Gift cards, coupons and other scams to watch for," 14 July 2018 HALES CORNERS - Closed for a month for remodeling, Diamond Jim's Stoneridge Inn, 11811 Janesville Road, is targeting Aug. 1 to reopen, said Sue Young, a manager. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stoneridge Inn, closed for kitchen remodeling, slated to reopen Aug. 1 in Hales Corners," 13 July 2018 As well as targeting Ajax star Frenkie de Jong, La Blaugrana are also reportedly very close to signing Paulinho's compatriot Arthur from Gremio., "Brazil Star Paulinho Close to Barcelona Exit as Shock Return to China Beckons," 6 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of target


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for target


Middle English, from Middle French targette, targuete, diminutive of targe light shield, from Old French, of Germanic origin; akin to Old Norse targa shield

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Statistics for target

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for target

The first known use of target was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for target



English Language Learners Definition of target

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that you are trying to do or achieve

: a place, thing, or person at which an attack is aimed

: the person or group that someone is trying to influence, sell something to, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of target (Entry 2 of 2)

: to aim an attack at someone or something

: to direct an action, message, etc., at someone or something


tar·get | \ˈtär-gət \

Kids Definition of target

1 : a mark or object to shoot at or attack

2 : a person or thing that is talked about, criticized, or laughed at

3 : a goal to be reached Her target is to lose ten pounds by summer.


tar·get | \ˈtär-gət \

Medical Definition of target 

1 : something to be affected by an action or development specifically : an organ, part, or tissue that is affected by the action of a hormone

2a : the metallic surface usually of platinum or tungsten upon which the stream of electrons within an X-ray tube is focused and from which the X-rays are emitted

b : a body, surface, or material bombarded with nuclear particles or electrons

3 : the thought or object that is to be recognized (as by telepathy) or affected (as by psychokinesis) in a parapsychological experiment

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Legal Definition of target 

: the object to be affected or achieved by an action or development specifically : a company that is the object of a takeover

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Comments on target

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


one that holds something together

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