target

noun, often attributive
tar·​get | \ ˈtär-gət How to pronounce target (audio) \

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
c US law : a person against whom a federal prosecutor has substantial evidence of involvement in criminal activity and who the prosecutor believes is likely to be indicted by a grand jury The full extent of Iacobelli's ongoing cooperation is sealed in federal court, but prosecutors have identified additional targets and Iacobelli could spend less time in prison if his help proves substantial.— Robert Snell
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

target

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for target

Synonyms: Noun

butt, mark, prey, sitting duck, victim

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of target in a Sentence

Noun

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.

Verb

drugs that target cancer cells
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Will and Kate use the helicopter almost daily to travel to royal engagements and its landing site is a frequent target for people hoping to snap a photo of the royals. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William and Kate Middleton Plant a 950-Foot Hedge at Kensington Palace to Protect Their Privacy," 7 Apr. 2019 According to the Sierra Club, more than 90 cities, 10 counties, and two states have set targets for 100 percent renewable energy. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Climate and energy news in 2018 actually wasn’t all bad," 1 Jan. 2019 With four squads on the board, anyone with a diminished hand of cards is left unable to defend themselves and thus becomes a target for everyone else's aggression. Owen Duffy, Ars Technica, "Wildlands may be the slickest, simplest fantasy skirmish game ever made," 1 Dec. 2018 Casey is among 10 Democratic senators seeking re-election this year in states won by Trump, making him a target for Republicans. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Barletta, Trump backer, wins GOP nod to take on Sen. Casey," 2 Oct. 2018 The top 40 airports are targets for us, and those cities tend to have sports teams, as well as universities. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Innovators: Biometrics Believer Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO of Clear, on Never Needing ID Again," 11 Sep. 2018 Traditionally, ground forces had just a few ways to avoid being the target of aircraft bombs. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This New Air Defense System Can Intercept Aircraft-Dropped Bombs," 4 Apr. 2019 But his career was also marked by controversy: He was fired from Twitter for poor management and was recently the target of an HR complaint at HQ Trivia. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: A Russian disinformation campaign used every major social media platform to help elect President Trump," 17 Dec. 2018 The airmen at Schriever are used to the idea of GPS as a target. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Locked Rooms Where They Protect GPS," 22 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Such units are specifically trained and equipped to hunt down air-defense systems on the ground, identifying them and targeting them with radar-homing missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Air Force Is Buying New F-15s After All," 19 Feb. 2019 Anglin, who operates neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, said that his decision to publish Tanya Gersh's personal information and encourage his racist followers to target her was protected under the First Amendment. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Talk amongst yourselves: 2018’s most-commented stories on Ars," 24 Dec. 2018 The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that on March 9 and 10, two members of the White Helmets were targeted and killed in an airstrike, and I was forced to temporarily flee my home last month when it was bombed. Amal Hamo, Teen Vogue, "I’m a White Helmets Volunteer Saving Lives in Syria With the Syria Civil Defense and the World Must Join Me," 19 Apr. 2019 The action on Wednesday would further isolate the country and President Nicolás Maduro’s government from the international financial system by targeting the payment process critical to the nation’s trade, investment and banking industries. ... Ian Talley, WSJ, "U.S. Applies New Pressure on Venezuela," 17 Apr. 2019 The insurgents carry out daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces and NATO troops, and inflicting staggering casualties, including among civilians. Amir Shah, The Seattle Times, "Taliban declare start of spring offensive amid talks with US," 12 Apr. 2019 This week gave them fresh reason to doubt after authorities targeted an opposition leader with a sedition charge. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Democracy Dwindles in Thailand," 4 Apr. 2019 India deliberately targeted a satellite that orbited at a lower altitude than the ISS to prevent this sort of situation, but some of the debris appears to have reached higher. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "India's Anti-Satellite Test Could Threaten the International Space Station," 2 Apr. 2019 During that period, extremists hoping to create an Islamic state battled security forces while carrying out village massacres and targeting journalists, intellectuals and foreigners. ___ Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report. Aomar Ouali, The Seattle Times, "Algerian army chief calls for president to be declared unfit," 26 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of target

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb

1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for target

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about target

Statistics for target

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for target

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for target

target

noun

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.

target

verb

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

target

noun
tar·​get | \ ˈtär-gət How to pronounce target (audio) \

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.

target

noun
tar·​get | \ ˈtär-gət How to pronounce target (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

target

noun
tar·​get

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on target

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with target

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for target

Spanish Central: Translation of target

Nglish: Translation of target for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of target for Arabic Speakers

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

a sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!