shoot for

shoot for

verb (used with object), shot, shoot·ing.

  1. to hit, wound, damage, kill, or destroy with a missile discharged from a weapon.
  2. to execute or put to death with a bullet: to be shot at sunrise.
  3. to send forth or discharge (a missile) from a weapon: to shoot a bullet.
  4. to discharge (a weapon): to shoot a gun.
  5. to send forth (words, ideas, etc.) rapidly: to shoot questions at someone.
  6. to fling; propel: The volcano shot lava high into the air.
  7. to direct suddenly or swiftly: Shoot the spotlight on the doorway. He shot a smile at his wife.
  8. to move suddenly; send swiftly along.
  9. to go over (country) in hunting game.
  10. to pass rapidly through, over, down, etc.: to shoot rapids.
  11. to emit (a ray or rays, as of light) suddenly, briefly, or intermittently.
  12. to variegate by threads, streaks, etc., of another color.
  13. to cause to extend or project: He shot out his arm and grabbed the ball.
  14. to discharge or empty, as down a chute: Do not shoot rubbish here!
  15. Sports.
    1. to throw, kick, or otherwise propel (a ball, puck, etc.), as at a goal or teammate.
    2. to score (a goal, points, etc.) by propelling the ball, puck, etc.
  16. Games. to propel (a marble) from the crook or first knuckle of the forefinger by flicking with the thumb.
  17. (in dice games)
    1. to throw (the dice or a specific number).
    2. to wager or offer to bet (a sum of money): I’ll shoot ten bucks.
  18. Photography. to photograph or film.
  19. to put forth (buds, branches, etc.), as a plant.
  20. to slide (a bolt or the like) into or out of its fastening.
  21. to pull (one’s cuffs) abruptly toward one’s hands.
  22. Golf. to make a final score of (so many strokes): He shot a 73 on the first 18 holes of the tournament.
  23. to take the altitude of (a heavenly body): to shoot the sun.
  24. to detonate; cause to explode, as a charge of explosives.
  25. Aeronautics. to practice (a maneuver) by repetition: to shoot landings.
  26. Slang. to inject (an addictive drug) intravenously.

verb (used without object), shot, shoot·ing.

  1. to send forth missiles from a bow, firearm, or the like.
  2. to be discharged, as a firearm.
  3. to hunt with a gun for sport: He fishes, but he doesn’t shoot.
  4. to move or pass suddenly or swiftly; spurt: The car shot ahead and was soon out of sight.
  5. Nautical. to acquire momentum and coast into the wind, as a sailboat in a confined area.
  6. to grow forth from the ground, as a stem.
  7. to put forth buds or shoots, as a plant; germinate.
  8. Photography. to photograph.
  9. Movies. to film or begin to film a scene or movie.
  10. to extend; jut: a cape shooting out into the sea.
  11. Sports, Games.
    1. to propel a ball, puck, etc., at a goal, basket, pocket, etc., or in a specific direction: He shot for the green with a five iron.
    2. to propel a ball in a specific way: The center shoots left-handed.
  12. to be felt by or flow through or permeate the body: Pain shot through his injured arm. Chills shot up and down her spine.
  13. to carry by force of discharge or momentum: The missile left its pad and shot thousands of miles into space.
  14. Informal. to begin, especially to begin to talk: I want to hear your complaint, so shoot!


  1. the act of shooting with a bow, firearm, etc.
  2. Chiefly British. a hunting trip or expedition.
  3. a match or contest at shooting.
  4. a growing or sprouting, as of a plant.
  5. a new or young growth that shoots off from some portion of a plant.
  6. the amount of such growth.
  7. a young branch, stem, twig, or the like.
  8. a sprout that is not three feet high.
  9. a chute.
  10. Rocketry. the launching of a missile.
  11. Informal. a photographic assignment or session, as for a feature film or a television commercial: The actress is away on a shoot.
  12. Rowing. the interval between strokes.
  13. Mining.
    1. a small tunnel branching off from a larger tunnel.
    2. a narrow vein of ore.

Verb Phrases

  1. shoot down,
    1. to cause to fall by hitting with a shot: They shot down several ducks.
    2. disparage, reject, or expose as false or inadequate; debunk: to shoot down a popular theory.
  2. shoot for/at, to attempt to obtain or accomplish; strive toward: He is shooting for a higher production level.
  3. shoot up,
    1. to grow rapidly or suddenly.
    2. damage or harass by reckless shooting: cowboys shooting up the town.
    3. to wound by shooting: He shot up the lion, but his guide killed it.
    4. inject an addictive drug intravenously.
  1. shoot from the hip, to act or speak without due consideration or deliberation.
  2. shoot off one’s mouth/face, Slang.
    1. to talk indiscreetly, especially to reveal confidences, make thoughtless remarks, etc.
    2. to exaggerate: He likes to shoot off his mouth about what a great guy he is.
  3. shoot one’s bolt. bolt1(def 29).
  4. shoot one’s wad. wad1(def 13).
  5. shoot the breeze. breeze1(def 11).
  6. shoot the bull. bull3(def 2).
  7. shoot the works. work(def 55).

verb shoots, shooting or shot

  1. (tr) to hit, wound, damage, or kill with a missile discharged from a weapon
  2. to discharge (a missile or missiles) from a weapon
  3. to fire (a weapon) or (of a weapon) to be fired
  4. to send out or be sent out as if from a weaponhe shot questions at her
  5. (intr) to move very rapidly; dart
  6. (tr) to slide or push into or out of a fasteningto shoot a bolt
  7. to emit (a ray of light) or (of a ray of light) to be emitted
  8. (tr) to go or pass quickly over or throughto shoot rapids
  9. (intr) to hunt game with a gun for sport
  10. (tr) to pass over (an area) in hunting game
  11. to extend or cause to extend; project
  12. (tr) to discharge down or as if down a chute
  13. (intr) (of a plant) to produce (buds, branches, etc)
  14. (intr) (of a seed) to germinate
  15. to photograph or record (a sequence, subject, etc)
  16. (tr; usually passive) to variegate or streak, as with colour
  17. sport to hit or propel (the ball, etc) towards the goal
  18. (tr) sport, mainly US and Canadian to score (points, strokes, etc)he shot 72 on the first round
  19. (tr) to plane (a board) to produce a straight edge
  20. (tr) mining to detonate
  21. (tr) to measure the altitude of (a celestial body)
  22. (often foll by up) slang to inject (someone, esp oneself) with (a drug, esp heroin)
  23. shoot a line See line 1 (def. 58)
  24. shoot from the hip to speak bluntly or impulsively without concern for the consequences
  25. shoot one’s bolt See bolt 1 (def. 13)
  26. shoot oneself in the foot informal to damage one’s own cause inadvertently
  27. shoot one’s mouth off slang
    1. to talk indiscreetly
    2. to boast or exaggerate
  28. shoot the breeze See breeze 1 (def. 5)


  1. the act of shooting
  2. the action or motion of something that is shot
  3. the first aerial part of a plant to develop from a germinating seed
  4. any new growth of a plant, such as a bud, young branch, etc
  5. mainly British a meeting or party organized for hunting game with guns
  6. an area or series of coverts and woods where game can be hunted with guns
  7. a steep descent in a stream; rapid
  8. informal a photographic assignment
  9. geology mining a narrow workable vein of ore
  10. obsolete the reach of a shot
  11. the whole shoot slang everything


  1. US and Canadian an exclamation expressing disbelief, scepticism, disgust, disappointment, etc

Old English sceotan “to hurl missiles, cast; strike, hit, push; run, rush; send forth swiftly; wound with missiles” (class II strong verb; past tense sceat, past participle scoten), from Proto-Germanic *skeutanan (cf. Old Saxon skiotan, Old Norse skjota “to shoot with (a weapon); shoot, launch, push, shove quickly,” Old Frisian skiata, Middle Dutch skieten, Dutch schieten, Old High German skiozan, German schießen), from PIE root *skeud- “to shoot, to chase, to throw, to project” (cf. Sanskrit skundate “hastens, makes haste,” Old Church Slavonic iskydati “to throw out,” Lithuanian skudrus “quick, nimble”).

In reference to pool playing, from 1926. Meaning “to strive (for)” is from 1967, American English. Sense of “descend (a river) quickly” is from 1610s. Meaning “to inject by means of a hypodermic needle” is attested from 1914. Meaning “photograph” (especially a movie) is from 1890. As an interjection, an arbitrary euphemistic alteration of shit, it is recorded from 1934. Shoot the breeze “chat” first recorded 1941. Shoot-’em-up (adj.) in reference to violent entertainment (Western movies, etc.) is from 1942. Shoot to kill first attested 1867. Shoot the cat “to vomit” is from 1785. To shoot the moon originally meant “depart by night with ones goods to escape back rent” (1829).

O, ’tis cash makes such crowds to the gin shops roam,
And ’tis cash often causes a rumpus at home ;
‘Tis when short of cash people oft shoot the moon ;
And ’tis cash always keeps our pipes in tune.
Cash! cash! &c.

[“The Melodist and Mirthful Olio, An Elegant Collection of the Most Popular Songs,” vol. IV, London, 1829]


“young branch of a tree or plant,” mid-15c., from shoot (v.). Also “heavy, sudden rush of water” (1610s); “artificial channel for water running down” (1707); “conduit for coal, etc.” (1844).


1530s, “an act of shooting;” 1852 as “a shooting match or party,” from shoot (v.).

  1. The part of a vascular plant that is above ground, including the stem and leaves. The tips of shoots contain the apical meristem.

Strive or aim for, as in We’re shooting for higher production by spring. This term, alluding to aiming at something with a weapon, has largely replaced the earlier shoot at, which dates from the 1400s.

In addition to the idioms beginning with shoot

  • shoot down
  • shoot for
  • shoot from the hip
  • shoot off one’s mouth
  • shoot one’s bolt
  • shoot oneself in the foot
  • shoot straight
  • shoot the breeze
  • shoot the works
  • shoot up

also see:

  • like shooting fish in a barrel
  • sure as shooting
  • whole ball of wax (shooting match)

Also see undershot.

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