1. an object, usually marked with concentric circles, to be aimed at in shooting practice or contests.
  2. any object used for this purpose.
  3. anything fired at.
  4. a goal to be reached.
  5. an object of abuse, scorn, derision, etc.; butt.
  6. Fencing. the portion of a fencer’s body where a touch can be scored.
  7. a disk-shaped signal, as at a railroad switch, indicating the position of a switch.
  8. Surveying.
    1. the sliding sight on a leveling rod.
    2. any marker on which sights are taken.
  9. a small shield, usually round, carried by a foot soldier; buckler.


  1. that is or may be a target or goal: The target group consisted of college graduates who earned more than $50,000 a year.

verb (used with object)

  1. to use, set up, or designate as a target or goal.
  2. to direct toward a target: The new warheads can be targeted with great precision.
  3. to make a target of (an object, person, city, etc.) for attack or bombardment.

Verb Phrases

  1. target (in) on, to establish or use as a target or goal: The club is targeting on September for the move to larger quarters.


  1. on target,
    1. properly aimed or on the right course toward a target.
    2. accurate, correct, or valid: Their description of the event was on target.
    3. filling or meeting a requirement or expectations: The amount of supplies we took was right on target.


    1. an object or area at which an archer or marksman aims, usually a round flat surface marked with concentric rings
    2. (as modifier)target practice
    1. any point or area aimed at; the object of an attack or a takeover bid
    2. (as modifier)target area; target company
  1. a fixed goal or objectivethe target for the appeal is £10 000
  2. a person or thing at which an action or remark is directed or the object of a person’s feelingsa target for the teacher’s sarcasm
  3. a joint of lamb consisting of the breast and neck
  4. surveying a marker on which sights are taken, such as the sliding marker on a levelling staff
  5. (formerly) a small round shield
  6. physics electronics
    1. a substance, object, or system subjected to bombardment by electrons or other particles, or to irradiation
    2. an electrode in a television camera tube whose surface, on which image information is stored, is scanned by the electron beam
  7. electronics an object to be detected by the reflection of a radar or sonar signal, etc
  8. on target on the correct course to meet a target or objective

verb -gets, -geting or -geted (tr)

  1. to make a target of
  2. to direct or aimto target benefits at those most in need

n.c.1400, “shield,” diminutive of late Old English targe, from Old French targe “light shield,” from Frankish *targa “shield” (cf. Old High German zarga “edging, border,” German zarge, Old English targe, Old Norse targa “shield”), from Proto-Germanic *targo “border, edge.” Meaning “object to be aimed at in shooting” first recorded 1757, originally in archery. Target audience is by 1951, early reference is to Cold War psychological warfare. v.“to use as a target,” 1837, from target (n.). Related: Targeted; targeting. n.

  1. One to be influenced or changed by an action or event.
  2. A desired goal.
  3. A usually metal part in an x-ray tube on which a beam of electrons is focused and from which x-rays are emitted.
  4. A target organ.

see on target; sitting duck (target).

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