[ gohl ]
/ goʊl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: goal / goals / goalless on Thesaurus.com

Definition of goal

Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of goal

First recorded in 1325–50; Middle English gol “boundary, limit”; further origin uncertain; compare Old English gǣlan “to hinder, impede”

historical usage of goal

Goal has no reliable etymology. It appears for the first and only time in Middle English as gol “boundary, limit” in the mid-14th century. Some authorities suggest that gol was a borrowing from Middle French gaule, waulle “pole, stick,” from an unattested Germanic cognate of Old Frisian waal, walu “rod,” which is of no real help. The second recorded occurrence of goal, then spelled gole, is in the first half of the 16th century, with the meaning “finishing point of a race, finish line.” The extended sense “aim or purpose, outcome of effort or ambition” also dates from the first half of the 16th century. By the late 16th century, goal, at this point spelled goale, had also acquired the meaning, now obsolete, “starting point of a race,” a translation of one of the many meanings of Latin fīnis (which also meant “boundary, limit” and “finishing point of a race, finish line”).


goal·less, adjectivesub·goal, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a basic definition of goal?

A goal is an objective or target that someone is trying to reach or achieve. Goal is also the end point of a race or something that a player is trying to put an object into as part of a game. Goal has other senses as a noun.

A goal is an aim or objective that you work toward with effort and determination.

Real-life examples: People have many different kinds of goals. These include career goals, relationship goals, life goals, and educational goals. You might have a specific goal of learning how to play the guitar or saving up enough money to travel to another country.

Used in a sentence: She completed her goal of renting her first apartment using her own money. 

Goal is also the final destination in a race.

Real-life example: A three-mile race has competitors travel three miles before reaching the goal, or end of the race.

Used in a sentence: The runner nearly passed out after finally reaching the goal. 

In this same sense, goal is also the line, stick, or anything else that marks this point in a race.

Used in a sentence: The lead horse crossed the goal milliseconds before the runner-up. 

In sports, goal refers to a basket, net, cage, object, or area that a player is trying to move something to or put something into in order to score points. A player whose role is to prevent opposing players from doing this is called a goalkeeper, goaltender, or a goalie.

Real-life examples: Soccer, ice hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse all have a goal that is a structure with a net that stops the ball or puck. A player scores points for their team if the ball or puck enters the area of the field that the goal occupies.

Used in a sentence: Maddie kicked the soccer ball into the goal to win the game.

Goal is also the act of scoring points by successfully getting an object into a goal.

Used in a sentence: Sally scored two goals during the hockey game. 

Where does goal come from?

The first records of goal come from around 1325. It comes from the Middle English gol, meaning a “boundary” or “limit.” Any earlier origin of the word goal is unknown.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to goal?

  • goalless (adjective)
  • subgoal (noun)

What are some synonyms for goal?

What are some words that share a root or word element with goal

What are some words that often get used in discussing goal?

How is goal used in real life?

Goal is a common word used both for sports and tasks people are hoping to accomplish.



Try using goal!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of goal?

A. objective
B. setback
C. aim
D. target

How to use goal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for goal

/ (ɡəʊl) /

the aim or object towards which an endeavour is directed
the terminal point of a journey or race
(in various sports) the net, basket, etc into or over which players try to propel the ball, puck, etc, to score
  1. a successful attempt at scoring
  2. the score so made
(in soccer, hockey, etc) the position of goalkeeper

Derived forms of goal

goalless, adjective

Word Origin for goal

C16: perhaps related to Middle English gol boundary, Old English gǣlan to hinder, impede
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012