target

1 of 2

noun

tar·​get ˈtär-gət How to pronounce target (audio)
often attributive
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

target

2 of 2

verb

targeted; targeting; targets

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
Phrases
off target
: not valid : inaccurate
on target
: precisely correct or valid especially in interpreting or addressing a problem or vital issue

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
His arrival at the Emirates Stadium would be a statement of intent with the Ecuadorian midfielder also a target for Chelsea who have already had a bid rejected by Brighton. Graham Ruthven, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, designated as a target in the inquiry, headlined the list of former aides and allies of the former president summoned to testify before the panel. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2023 Previously, Tesla set a long-term growth target of 50% for deliveries, but Ives believes a 35% to 40% figure would be more reasonable given the slowing global economy. Will Daniel, Fortune, 24 Jan. 2023 California lawmakers continue to push to tighten gun laws, making the state a laboratory for firearms regulations and a frequent target of criticism from groups such as the National Rifle Association. Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2023 This story had listed Wizards forward Rui Hachimura as a possible Mavericks trade target. Dallas News, 23 Jan. 2023 Unfortunately, your air conditioner can turn into a prime target for mold growth if it is not properly maintained. Timothy Dale, Better Homes & Gardens, 23 Jan. 2023 Republican member of Congress Nancy Mace told NBC over the weekend spending must be cut but couldn’t name a single target for reductions. Quartz, 23 Jan. 2023 Despite the additional evidence, prosecutors at the Houston office continued to see their findings as insufficient to go after a target as formidable as García Luna, officials said. Tim Golden, ProPublica, 22 Jan. 2023
Verb
Researchers speculate that the weight loss benefits of tirzepatide comes from its ability to target both GIP and GLP-1 receptors. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 The confiscatory tax alliance emerged late last week when lawmakers from eight states unveiled plans to target wealthy residents. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 24 Jan. 2023 And the group has the capability to target many different types of systems. WIRED, 24 Jan. 2023 Since 2020, Facebook has limited the ability of politicians to target advertising by demographics such as region, age and political leaning. Julia Zorthian, Time, 21 Jan. 2023 Fifty-seven years ago this month, King moved to Chicago with plans to target public and private institutions. Marianne Mather, Chicago Tribune, 12 Jan. 2023 To emphasize the inner portion of the bicep, take a wider grip; to target the outer part of the muscle, bring your hands closer together. Beth Bischoff, Men's Health, 12 Jan. 2023 The bill also makes a number of other changes to immigration processing, including setting up refugee processing centers in Central America and efforts to target root causes in Central America. Adam Shaw, Fox News, 7 Jan. 2023 Still the Patriot’s ability to target some ballistic missiles and aircraft could potentially protect Kyiv if Russian President Vladimir Putin carried through on his persistent threat to deploy a tactical nuclear device. Lolita C. Baldor, Fortune, 15 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb

1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of target was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near target

Cite this Entry

“Target.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/target. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

target

noun
tar·​get
ˈtär-gət
1
: a mark to shoot at
2
: a person or thing that is talked about, criticized, or laughed at
3
: a goal to be achieved : objective

Medical Definition

target

noun
tar·​get ˈtär-gət How to pronounce target (audio)
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
2
a
: 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

Legal Definition

target

noun
tar·​get
: the object to be affected or achieved by an action or development
specifically : a company that is the object of a takeover

More from Merriam-Webster on target

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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