Goals & Objectives

Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably, but if you consider the etymology of the words, you’ll see a meaningful similarity.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (source), here is the etymology of the word Goal:

in 1530s, [it meant the] “end point of a race,” of uncertain origin. It appears once before this (as gol), in a poem from early 14c. and with an apparent sense of “boundary, limit.” Perhaps from Old English *gal “obstacle, barrier,” a word implied by gælan “to hinder” and also found in compounds (singal, widgal). That would make it a variant or figurative use of Middle English gale “a way, course.” Also compare Old Norse geil “a narrow glen, a passage.” Or from Old French gaule “long pole, stake,” which is from Germanic. Sports sense of “place where the ball, etc. is put to score” is attested from 1540s. Figurative sense of “object of an effort” is from 1540s.

It is interesting to note the list of definitions associated with the word Objective (source).

Here is a short etymology of the word:

from 1738, “something objective to the mind,” from objective (adj.). Meaning “goal, aim” (1881) is from military term objective point (1852), reflecting a sense evolution in French.

Some may say that you can differentiate between goals and objectives simply by remembering that objectives are measurable, while goals may be intangible.

In teaching and learning, sometimes the target–or what we want people to learn–changes in a course, much like the connotation or denotation of a word over time.

See also (source)

Read also the “Who did this?” page. Here is an excerpt:

Etymonline is a can-opener, an imaginary labyrinth with real minotaurs in it, my never-written novel shattered into words and arranged in alphabetical order. I knew poor students and poets would use it, and writers of historical fiction (and stoners). I did not anticipate ESL learners, but I can see how someone already arrived at an adult understanding of the world and learning a new language would look at the third dimension, history, as an aid. The most astonishing thing to me has been the use of this material in classrooms by students as young as elementary age. I never anticipated still working at it daily ten years later, but it’s been a marvelous ride. I hope you have as much fun using it as I do making it.



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