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

The annual target is about a fifth of that, and the actual acreage burned often falls far short of that goal. Washington Post, "Fighting fire with fire underused in US West despite goals," 12 Aug. 2019 An all-in-one product, the Pure Biology Total Eye ($30.40; amazon.com) targets puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and dehydration using a unique combination of ingredients. Nikhita Mahtani, CNN Underscored, "Want to fight dark circles? Look for these ingredients in your next eye cream," 10 Aug. 2019 In a sign of the times, though, even that target was lower than average, which had been around 5%. Larry Light, Fortune, "The Global Collapse in Interest Rates May be Setting Investors Up for a Crash," 9 Aug. 2019 This process involves inserting an optic fiber deep within the animal’s brain to deliver light to the target region. Sreekanth Chalasani, The Conversation, "The new field of sonogenetics uses sound waves to control the behavior of brain cells," 9 Aug. 2019 And as Castro’s doxxing of Trump donors shows, many are willing to use this information to put a target on the backs of Americans. Bradley A. Smith, National Review, "Doxxing Trump Donors Is Just the Beginning," 9 Aug. 2019 Councilman Jess Talamantes was hesitant to support sending a letter, fearing that responding to Trump’s comments could put a target on Burbank and risk losing funding from the federal government. Anthony Clark Carpio, Burbank Leader, "Burbank officials consider sending letter to Trump regarding recent tweets," 9 Aug. 2019 This year’s target is European bird cherry at that location. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "The trouble with thrips: They’re as annoying to gardeners as is possible," 7 Aug. 2019 Among the easiest targets for regulators searching for anti-competitive behavior are search rankings and corporate self-promotion. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple denies favoring its own apps over competitors’ in App Store search results," 23 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Since chlamydia primarily affects female fertility, Shattock anticipates that the vaccine would initially be targeted to girls. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "There Could Be a Chlamydia Vaccine In the Coming Years, A Promising New Study Suggests," 13 Aug. 2019 Because the treatment is narrowly targeted to cells that perceive light, known as photoreceptors, any unintended gene edits should not cause widespread problems, Albright says. Karen Weintraub, Scientific American, "Despite Controversy, Human Studies of CRISPR Move Forward in the U.S.," 13 Aug. 2019 The three vertical wells target the Barbers Hill field down to a depth of 5,500 feet. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Drilling Down: Pioneer’s big bet on the Midland Basin," 12 Aug. 2019 But better farming practices — such as no-till agricultural and better targeted fertilizer applications — have the potential to fight global warming too, reducing carbon pollution up to 18% of current emissions levels by 2050, the report said. Washington Post, "UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future," 9 Aug. 2019 But better farming practices — such as no-till agricultural and better targeted fertilizer applications — have the potential to fight global warming too, reducing carbon pollution up to 18% of current emissions levels by 2050, the report said. Fox News, "UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future," 8 Aug. 2019 Hovering over links within the .onion site showed they were targeted to a non-deep-Web 8chan subdomain—and to our surprise, those links loaded. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "8chan resurfaces, along with The Daily Stormer and another Nazi site," 7 Aug. 2019 The investigators also couldn't find supporting evidence that the supervisor under investigation had told air marshals to target African Americans from 2005 to 2010. Mike Schneider, orlandosentinel.com, "Probe finds no bias by TSA supervisor at Orlando International Airport, but profiling concerns," 6 Aug. 2019 Casamigos Diageo’s Mezcal Unión is for the former, while Pierde Almas is targeted to the latter. John Kell, Fortune, "Has Mezcal Become Too Big for Its Own Good?," 4 Aug. 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

15 Aug 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 wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!