an object, usually marked with concentric circles, to be aimed at in shooting practice or contests.
any object used for this purpose.
anything fired at.
a goal to be reached.
an object of abuse, scorn, derision, etc.; butt.
Fencing. the portion of a fencer's body where a touch can be scored.
a disk-shaped signal, as at a railroad switch, indicating the position of a switch.
the sliding sight on a leveling rod.
any marker on which sights are taken.
a small shield, usually round, carried by a foot soldier; buckler.
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)
to use, set up, or designate as a target or goal.
to direct toward a target: The new warheads can be targeted with great precision.
to make a target of (an object, person, city, etc.) for attack or bombardment.
Verb phrases
target (in) on, to establish or use as a target or goal: The club is targeting on September for the move to larger quarters.
on target,
properly aimed or on the right course toward a target.
accurate, correct, or valid: Their description of the event was on target.
filling or meeting a requirement or expectations: The amount of supplies we took was right on target.

1350–1400; Middle English (noun) < Middle French targuete, variant of targete small shield. See targe, -et

targetable, adjective
targetless, adjective
untargetable, adjective
untargeted, adjective

4. aim, end, purpose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
target (ˈtɑːɡɪt)
1.  a.  an object or area at which an archer or marksman aims, usually a round flat surface marked with concentric rings
 b.  (as modifier): target practice
2.  a.  any point or area aimed at; the object of an attack or a takeover bid
 b.  (as modifier): target area; target company
3.  a fixed goal or objective: the target for the appeal is £10 000
4.  a person or thing at which an action or remark is directed or the object of a person's feelings: a target for the teacher's sarcasm
5.  a joint of lamb consisting of the breast and neck
6.  surveying a marker on which sights are taken, such as the sliding marker on a levelling staff
7.  (formerly) a small round shield
8.  physics, electronics
 a.  a substance, object, or system subjected to bombardment by electrons or other particles, or to irradiation
 b.  an electrode in a television camera tube whose surface, on which image information is stored, is scanned by the electron beam
9.  electronics an object to be detected by the reflection of a radar or sonar signal, etc
10.  on target on the correct course to meet a target or objective
vb , -gets, -geting, -geted
11.  to make a target of
12.  to direct or aim: to target benefits at those most in need
[C14: from Old French targette a little shield, from Old French targe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1400, "shield," dim. of late O.E. targe, from O.Fr. targe "light shield," from Frank. *targa "shield" (cf. O.H.G. zarga "edging, border," Ger. zarge, O.E. targe, O.N. targa "shield"), from P.Gmc. *targo "border, edge." Meaning "object to be aimed at in shooting" first recorded 1757, originally in archery.
Verb meaning "to use as a target" is attested from 1837.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

target tar·get (tär'gĭt)

  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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Computing Dictionary

target definition

SCSI target

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Bible Dictionary

Target definition

(1 Sam. 17:6, A.V., after the LXX. and Vulg.), a kind of small shield. The margin has "gorget," a piece of armour for the throat. The Revised Version more correctly renders the Hebrew word (kidon) by "javelin." The same Hebrew word is used in Josh. 8:18 (A.V., "spear;" R.V., "javelin"); Job 39:23 (A.V., "shield;" R.V., "javelin"); 41:29 (A.V., "spear;" R.V., "javelin").

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see on target; sitting duck (target).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
When you go to conferences as an acquisitions editor you are a target.
If you target a destination, you don't run into that problem.
Nor did she quote a single student or a single resident of the target
  neighborhood she visited.
The extensive engine collection ranges from early aircraft to rockets and
  target drone.
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