Meaning of TARGET in English

I. tar ‧ get 1 S2 W2 AC /ˈtɑːɡət, ˈtɑːɡɪt $ ˈtɑːr-/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: targette , from targe 'small shield' ]

1 . AIM something that you are trying to achieve, such as a total, an amount, or a time SYN goal

sales/attainment/growth etc targets

demanding financial targets

target of

the target of a one-third reduction in road accidents

target for

Higher degrees in English are a target for foreign students.

There is no target date for completion of the new project.

The government may fail to meet (=achieve) its target of recycling 25% of domestic waste.

Jiang set annual growth targets of 8–9%.

on target (=likely to achieve a target)

The company says that growth of 10% is on target.

2 . OBJECT OF ATTACK an object, person, or place that is deliberately chosen to be attacked

target for/of

Railway stations are prime targets (=very likely targets) for bombs.

easy/soft target

Cars without security devices are an easy target for the thief.

3 . OBJECT OF AN ACTION the person or place that is most directly affected by an action, especially a bad one

target for/of

The area has become a prime target for supermarket development.

The country is a target of criticism for its human rights record.

4 . SHOOTING something that you practise shooting at, especially a round board with circles on it:

The area is used by the army for target practice.

5 . target audience/group/area etc a limited group, area etc that a plan, idea etc is aimed at:

Our target audience is men aged between 18 and 35.

6 . target language the language that you are learning or that you are translating into

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ meet a target (=achieve what you want to achieve)

The government wants to meet its target of building three million new homes by 2020.

▪ reach/achieve/hit a target (=meet it)

They achieved their target with just days to spare.

▪ set a target

The company has set ambitious business targets.

▪ exceed a target (=achieve more than you wanted to)

We have exceeded our target of £200,000.

▪ fall short of a target (=achieve less than you wanted to)

Car production at the plant has fallen short of its target by 5%.


▪ ambitious/high

The targets they have set themselves are hugely ambitious.

▪ modest (=not very high)

The Kyoto Protocol set fairly modest targets for reductions in greenhouse gases.

▪ achievable/realistic

The target is achievable, but only by hard work.

▪ a financial target

Both businesses exceeded their financial targets.

▪ a sales target

I’m confident we will meet our sales target by the end of the year.

▪ a growth target

The company’s growth targets have been achieved for the last three years.

■ target + NOUN

▪ a target date

There is no target date set for completion of the new project.

▪ a target figure

The government has set a target figure of 6.2%

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ a prime target (=the most suitable or most likely to be chosen)

Sporting events could become a prime target for terrorists.

▪ the main target

The rebel-held town is one of the main targets for U S troops.

▪ an easy/soft target

Some criminals now regard churches as easy targets.

▪ a sitting target (=someone who is easy to attack)

In the open, the soldiers are sitting targets.

▪ sb’s intended target

The gunman missed his intended target.

▪ a military target

The group insists that its bombs were directed against military targets.

▪ a civilian target

The army denied it had attacked civilian targets.

▪ a legitimate target (=one that it is fair to attack)

The rebels claimed that trains carrying soldiers are a legitimate target.

■ verbs

▪ attack a target

They have attacked military targets such as army camps and airfields.

▪ hit a target

Not every bomb hit its target.

▪ miss a target

All of the missiles missed their target and no-one was killed.

• • •


▪ aim something you hope to achieve by doing something:

The main aim of the plan was to provide employment for local people.

▪ goal something important that you hope to achieve in the future, even though it may take a long time:

The country can still achieve its goal of reducing poverty by a third.

▪ target a particular amount or total that you want to achieve:

The company is on track to meet its target of increasing profits by 10%.

▪ objective the specific thing that you are trying to achieve – used especially about things that have been officially discussed and agreed upon in business, politics etc:

Their main objective is to halt the flow of drugs.


We met to set the business objectives for the coming year.

▪ ambition something that you very much want to achieve in your future career:

Her ambition was to go to law school and become an attorney.


Earlier this year, he achieved his ambition of competing in the Olympic Games.

II. target 2 AC BrE AmE verb [transitive]

1 . to make something have an effect on a particular limited group or area:

The advertisement was designed to target a mass audience.

target something on/at somebody/something

a new benefit targeted on low-income families

The programme is targeted at improving the health of women of all ages.

2 . to aim something at a target

target something on/at somebody/something

The missiles are targeted at several key military sites.

3 . to choose a particular person or place to do something to, especially to attack them or criticize them:

It’s clear that smaller, more vulnerable banks have been targeted.

He was targeted by terrorists for a second time last night.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.