Definition of target in English:



  • 1A person, object, or place selected as the aim of an attack.

    ‘the airport terminal was the target of a bomb’
    ‘a military target’
    • ‘My own definition is simple: an act of political violence committed against purely civilian targets is terrorism; attacks on military targets are not.’
    • ‘Spokesmen who have defended the bombing have said that the civilian casualties are a regrettable but unavoidable side-effect of the attacks on military targets.’
    • ‘Military targets were not attacked because of the fear of too much collateral damage; a euphemism for civilian casualties.’
    • ‘Pakistan is forced to respond by launching air attacks on Indian military targets.’
    • ‘At first examination, the use of computer network attack against military targets to disrupt clearly military activities appears legal and ethical.’
    • ‘As a huge fire raged in the south of the city, the US military said last night up to 1,000 targets would be attacked during the course of the night.’
    • ‘They say, in this case, they're only going after military targets, where attacks against coalition forces are being planned or weapons are being stored.’
    • ‘Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.’
    • ‘A warning today about more possible bomb attacks against Western targets in Indonesia.’
    • ‘The same imaging sensors are used to help aid precision bomb attacks over enemy targets.’
    • ‘Recently there has been a rise in the number of attacks on US military targets and the first pitched battle between reconstituted former Taliban and American forces.’
    • ‘You are allowed to attack a military target even if civilians are there.’
    • ‘Their attacks on military targets have failed spectacularly.’
    • ‘Police have confirmed the blast was terrorist-related, while the MP for the area linked the incident to recent dissident attacks on other military targets in the area.’
    • ‘But others, many still at large, were involved in plotting bomb attacks against Jewish targets in Western Europe.’
    • ‘We've seen quite a shift from attacks on civilian targets to stronger attacks on military targets, particularly in the last 10 days.’
    • ‘The Pentagon has made a great deal of its claims to be attacking only military targets.’
    • ‘Following their philosophy of using air power to attack military targets, the German bombers struck ports, airfields, and British fighter production.’
    • ‘He repeated a government and the men's family's belief that the two were not planning to attack targets in South Africa, as reported.’
    • ‘The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.’
    prey, quarry, game, kill, bag
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    1. 1.1A mark or point at which one fires or aims, especially a round or rectangular board marked with concentric circles used in archery or shooting.
      • ‘He did not have a save to make as the centre forward fired his penalty wide of the target.’
      • ‘All the targets have 10 concentric rings with different points values, the inner ring being the bullseye and normally worth 10 points.’
      • ‘The sun began to slide down toward the west end of the sky as they were setting up targets for their archery contest.’
      • ‘The 50-lane archery complex has movable targets allowing for training at distances up to 90 meters.’
      • ‘I had visions of hearing the thrum of the tense bowstring as I unleashed an arrow at an archery target.’
      • ‘He took up a bow and arrows, then quickly began to fire them at the target.’
      • ‘They were standing next to a ring in which servants were setting up the targets for the archery contest.’
      • ‘Imagine an archery target with two arrows sticking in the very centre of it.’
      • ‘Eventually we continued on our way, past gently rolling hills and archery targets in a field.’
      • ‘The coloured posts mark the shooting position for each target and should be marked with the number of arrows to be shot from each post.’
      • ‘The fire has cost them almost £2,000 in archery targets and stands.’
      • ‘Someone had actually found a bow and a few arrows, and a homemade target and shooting range had actually been set up.’
      • ‘After retrieving his bow and walking over to where the old archery targets were set up, he stretched a bit and tried a few warm up shots.’
      • ‘Once an archer downed a target, he nocked an arrow while relocating to another firing site.’
      • ‘Given his one genuine sight of goal in the first half, he hit the goalkeeper rather than the target.’
      • ‘There were fencing arenas, croquet wickets, balls to toss at targets, archery ranges, horseshoes and stakes, tracks for footraces, and more.’
      • ‘Exaggerate your follow through by keeping your sight on the target and your shooting arm up until the ball reaches the basket.’
      • ‘It's surrounded by parkland, fields, woods, horses, a cricket pitch and the paraphernalia of sports including archery targets near the track.’
      • ‘After 12 years in the business, the company added a second division: 3-D archery targets.’
      • ‘Once the initial round of shooting is completed the top six come together to fire at a further 25 targets, and the aggregate highest scorer is the winner.’
      mark, bullseye, goal, aim
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    2. 1.2An objective or result towards which efforts are directed.
      ‘the car met its sales target in record time’
      • ‘For the Executive, it should be a rosy picture of a booming new industry that will go a long way towards meeting its environmental targets and cement its green credentials with the voting public.’
      • ‘And within five years I would expect to see the results meeting national targets.’
      • ‘The software enables record labels to track usage for target marketing and sales efforts.’
      • ‘But when a company is not solidly established in any of the numerous markets, lay-offs are the inevitable result of not meeting targets.’
      • ‘We have got to sweep away the system that has failed and devise a totally new one - designed and directed towards achieving Olympic targets.’
      • ‘Failure to meet these targets could result in big fines.’
      • ‘Energetic fundraisers have gone a long way towards meeting their target and well ahead of time, too, because work on the church has to be delayed.’
      • ‘There are targets set around sales and those targets have to be met.’
      • ‘It has also significantly cut its own prices for broadband, and claims to be making in-roads towards meeting its ambitious targets for users.’
      • ‘Failure to meet specified targets could result in the coach's dismissal.’
      • ‘Ongoing funding is dependent on objectives and targets being met.’
      • ‘The Environmental Protection Agency said Ireland was also far behind in its efforts to meet the targets set by the Kyoto Treaty.’
      • ‘Over the years he invested thousands of pounds in his collection, which also embraced every other aspect of Avon, from catalogues to the special dinner services given to agents for meeting sales targets.’
      • ‘In the large state-owned mines, safety regulations are flouted to meet production targets, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries.’
      • ‘For the third year running, what educationalists call the Key Stage Two test results have shown no progress towards the targets set when Labour came to power.’
      • ‘Failure to meet these targets will result in a fine that will be passed on to the council it serves and then, inevitably, to council tax payers.’
      • ‘Some 80 per cent of car producers in China admitted they will not meet their sales targets for this year, mainland media reported last week.’
      • ‘National Wind Power said: "Wind energy will make an important contribution towards meeting these targets."’
      • ‘The trading statement, which will cover the first two months of the quarter, will be an important step in the market's assessment on whether the company can meet its sales targets for the year.’
      • ‘High levels of emergency admissions, soaring drug budgets, desperate efforts to meet Government targets and the costs of major pay deals have all contributed to the problems.’
      objective, goal, object, aim, end, desired result
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    3. 1.3A person or thing against whom criticism or abuse is directed.
      ‘they were the target for a wave of abuse from the press’
      • ‘Unlike some of the targets of media criticism, the media targets of blog criticism have ample means to publicly defend themselves.’
      • ‘The hours are anti-social, and drivers are often the targets of abuse - from frustrated passengers in the day and from drunks and vandals at night.’
      • ‘Catholics are twice as likely as Protestants to be the targets of sectarian abuse and a third of all victims are police officers, according to the first ever detailed study of crimes linked to religious hatred in Scotland.’
      • ‘I'll ask him why he's become the target of criticism for so many Republicans.’
      • ‘In any society, critical analysis is important and every person is a fair target for constructive criticism.’
      • ‘The Hazara were a special target for abuse under the former Taliban regime and, in the view of the tribunal, they are still at risk.’
      • ‘He said that some Council officials might feel they would be abused or a target but he didn't believe any of the commissioners would do that.’
      • ‘You're legit targets for questions, criticism and condemnation.’
      • ‘But it has been the target of international criticism for human rights abuses.’
      • ‘Increasingly the poor and the uneducated - the most vulnerable sections of society - have become targets for police abuse.’
      • ‘In particular, the property tax has become a major target of public criticism, even leading to a movement for tax resistance.’
      • ‘And then, when a third party defends the targets against the unfair criticisms, the critics seem upset.’
      • ‘The sorting office had been the target of much criticism in recent months, following the implementation of a single-service delivery system.’
      • ‘Ministers have allowed themselves to become the targets of criticism from both sides of the debate.’
      • ‘A pensioner has been forced out of his home in Portlaoise after becoming the target for verbal abuse and threats from a neighbour.’
      • ‘They surely know they are going to be targets for abuse, so why do they do it?’
      • ‘The report also reveals police and education officers were often the target of verbal abuse from the parents who were caught allowing their children to play truant.’
      • ‘If the attacks on those who have come before are any guide, this will go on for some time and then subside as they find new targets on whom to vent their bile.’
      • ‘Britain's railways have come close to a standstill in recent weeks, and the industry is the target of unprecedented criticism.’
      • ‘The president's popularity ratings are down to their pre-September 11 levels and he is a target for political criticism once more.’
      victim, butt, scapegoat, dupe, recipient, focus, object, subject, fair game, aunt sally
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    4. 1.4Phonetics An idealization of the articulation of a speech sound, with reference to which actual utterances can be described.
      • ‘In experiment 9, a computer program was written to give the subjects the choice of selecting the target sound that they have heard, its position in the token and its adjacent vowel.’
      • ‘Identify the position of a target sound in a word.’
      • ‘The basic sound, or phoneme, is selected as a target for treatment.’
  • 2historical A small round shield or buckler.

    • ‘Like the target, arm-straps link its maneuverability directly to the movement of the arm, so it is less versatile than a center-grip shield.’
    • ‘Targets and bucklers are small shields known to have been used in later historical periods, although targets became larger in the Renaissance.’
    • ‘It was soldiers armed with targets such as these under the command of Gonzalvo de Cordoba who defeated the Hapsburg-Valois pike formations in the Italian wars.’


  • 1 Select as an object of attention or attack.

    ‘two men were targeted by the attackers’
    • ‘People chose to target me for my name, for my runners or whatever, you know, so I had to deal with things to survive.’
    • ‘The criminals behind these attacks are constantly evolving their techniques and changing tactics to target a wider range of victims.’
    • ‘In addition, many of these attacks seemed to target more than property.’
    • ‘She adds that the project intends to target audiences that don't traditionally read books.’
    • ‘The comic directly targets several audience members in turn throughout his or her act.’
    • ‘Abandoned cars left on private land are to be targeted by scrapper crews in Colchester.’
    • ‘This attack sensing and warning could target both inside the Army's networks and systems or out in the Internet itself.’
    • ‘While squats and leg presses don't directly target the calves, they do rely on them for stability during heavier lifts.’
    • ‘All enemy vehicles can be destroyed with any weapon provided you target a key weak point and attack it enough times.’
    • ‘The company will then target Britain and Europe, where the single currency will help simplify the franchise experience.’
    • ‘He was not in the Alexandra Palace venue at the time of the attack, which had been clearly planned to target him.’
    • ‘An online store can offer a much bigger selection because it can target a much bigger audience.’
    • ‘The problem with the program is that it still primarily uses race as the qualifying factor, even if it targets a slightly narrower group among all those who claim native ancestry.’
    • ‘This comes at a time when private firms are targeting Scotland, offering instant access to a doctor.’
    • ‘To target distributors directly, simply look for their names on product labels.’
    • ‘I just hope they catch him before he targets anyone else.’
    • ‘We will continue to crack down hard on organised immigration crime which targets the most vulnerable, the poorest and the young.’
    • ‘York City supporters are to target the FA in a double-pronged attack to highlight the plight of the club.’
    • ‘It has since been targeted by vandals and has been set on fire on numerous occasions.’
    • ‘Copyright enforces are pleased at the forthcoming introduction of law that allows them to target running pirate sites directly.’
    pick out, single out, select, choose, decide on, earmark, fix on
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    1. 1.1Aim or direct (something)
      ‘warheads were targeted on a European city’
      • ‘PH domains regulate protein targeting to membranes and thereby serve as membrane adapters.’
      • ‘A better way to make money may be to target advertising at those users.’
      • ‘She believed that a return to the year 2000 budget level, with the money being targeted at those who had lost out in the changeover from a headage to an area based payment scheme, would go a long way to redressing the anomalies which had occurred.’
      • ‘The distribution is initially targeted at desktop users although Addis says server components are included along with the release.’
      • ‘Work related to drug deaths in Scotland has been targeted at users who inject.’
      • ‘In direct to consumer advertising, drug companies target advertisements for prescription drugs directly at the public.’
      • ‘Indeed, when he started his pursuit of him, Soviet missiles were still targeted on Western Europe.’
      • ‘Packages targeted at business users will also be available in three different bands.’
      • ‘After being targeted to the thylakoid membrane, the D1 protein elongation and membrane insertion occur concomitantly.’
      aim, direct, level, intend, focus, position
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  • on target

    • 1So as to hit or achieve the thing aimed at.

      ‘McGrath was on target with a header’
      ‘the new police station is on target for a June opening’
      • ‘It would be his side's only shot on target in the opening half, which is surely of grave concern to him.’
      • ‘Spending by all government departments is still on target, as 680m earmarked for expenditure has not been spent yet.’
      • ‘The club development fundraising project is still on target for May.’
      • ‘They had precisely one shot on target, an optimistic punt from Hamed Namouchi from fully 40 yards.’
      • ‘The bottom line was that the chances we created were very good but we didn't get enough goals or shots on target.’
      • ‘The company said it was on target for sales in excess of 100 million this year.’
      • ‘My shots were on target and my game is improving with every match.’
      • ‘An inability to catch, throw or even roll the balls on target would affect the concentration and rhythm of the contestants.’
      • ‘So it came as no surprise that the goal, as late as the 64th minute, came from the first decent shot on target by either side.’
      • ‘He will also confound critics by claiming the economy is still on target to hit the growth forecasts he set out earlier this year.’
      • ‘The team from Sofia never looked likely to score, recording just two shots on target in the course of the game.’
      accurate, precise, unerring, sure, true, on the mark
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      1. 1.1Accurately described or forecast; correct.
        ‘the film is remarkably on target in its depiction of the English settlers' attitudes toward the New World’
        [as adjective] ‘his on-target observations’
        • ‘Your assessment may be on target.’
        • ‘He provides really on-target tips for refining how teams should approach projects that are aiming for something new, something better.’
        • ‘He consistently manages to give an on-target review in half the space that either of the NY Times guys do, with virtually no blather.’
        • ‘Each of your points was valid and on target.’
        • ‘The editorial is probably on-target except for one teensy detail.’
        • ‘We found that Levitt's critique was largely on target.’
        • ‘Please keep the terms of the argument at least vaguely on-target.’
        • ‘I found myself shouting and cheering out loud for the pithiness of his metaphors and his on-target analysis.’
        • ‘He says: "The comments are mostly on target."’
        • ‘I began to feel my preconceptions were on target.’
        on schedule, on time, on track, on course
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  • off target

    • 1So as to miss or fail to achieve the thing aimed at.

      ‘his shot was off-target’
      ‘the programme to revolutionize primary care is years off target’
      [as adjective] ‘two off-target bombs’
      • ‘Carty went for a point and his off-target effort was kept in play by Sean Quinn who flicked it up for Niall Quinn and he punched the ball into the net.’
      • ‘Your goal should be to eliminate off-target movement of pesticides, no matter how small it may be.’
      • ‘Last year some 45% of hospitals missed the target, and so far this year 70% are off target.’
      • ‘Greece narrowed its central government budget deficit by 37 percent in the first nine months of 2012, the finance ministry said on Thursday, but revenues were still off target.’
      • ‘Most of the troops dropped by airplane were thirty-five miles off target.’
      • ‘Good coverage depends on having very small droplets, although these are more readily blown off target by wind than large drops.’
      • ‘It was only 800 ft off target.’
      • ‘Many of his passes were way off target.’
      • ‘David Whittle had a half chance late in the first half but his shot from 25 yards was just off target.’
      • ‘Pierzynski is hitting the ball with authority, more than compensating for off-target throws to second base.’
      1. 1.1Not accurately described or predicted; incorrect.
        ‘the original estimate was off target’
        • ‘Many of his predictions have been way off target.’
        • ‘It is "off-target" to suggest that the best way to improve governance is by reducing government resources and responsibilities, the report adds.’
        • ‘Unless I'm completely off-target here, he claims that the stuff we read or see in the foreign media isn't really how people feel, that the effect is superficial.’
        • ‘Off-target campaign rhetoric is not limited to matters of war and peace.’
        • ‘The official line is that the strategists lost their jobs in companywide downsizings that had nothing to do with off-target predictions.’
        • ‘Forecasts that are grossly off target can do more than merely hamper efficiency.’
        • ‘Great care must be taken in estimating rental income as the agent's estimate may be well off target.’
        • ‘That comparison seems pretty off target to me.’
        • ‘So that objection is simply off target.’


Late Middle English (in target): diminutive of targe. The verb dates from the early 17th century.