I'm looking for a word that I can't seem to find, and I'm struggling with how to find it. I'll use a blank in the place of the word and compare it other grammar to demonstrate what I actually mean:

Take predators and prey for instance:

The predator preys on the target;
The prey is predated by the predator.

Comparing this to the word I'm looking for:

The [blank] targets the target;
The target is targeted by the [blank]

I'm looking for a general word for something that does the targeting. Maybe I'm searching for a word that doesn't exist for a reason?


In response to suggestions of 'targeted': it's for a paper, so I wouldn't use a word that isn't in the dictionary. The exact context that I'm trying to use this word in is (in response to 'aimer'):

"There was a strong correlation between the length of the gene and the number of miRNAs that targeted it."

"There was a strong correlation between the length of the gene and the number of targeters it has". This works, but as it doesn't technically exist, and also sounds horrible, it won't suffice.

  • Are you talking about the actor who does the targeting or the device that acquires the target?
    – bib
    Apr 25, 2014 at 12:53
  • The general term for the actor. Please tell me it's not 'actor' though. Apr 25, 2014 at 13:19
  • I was thinking about 'Targeter', but I am not sure you can use it. Some websites have adopted this name.
    – user66974
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:32
  • 1
    I'd be surprised if there were a good general term for this. There are just so many things that are targeted. Ad campaigns target audiences; guns target tin cans (on good days); diet plans target ideal weights.
    – frances
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:53
  • I think it's General Reference that "targeter" is a validly-formed noun which is far from unknown. Any alternative would almost inevitably introduce or emphasise specific connotations differently to the base verb "to target". Apr 25, 2014 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


What you are doing here is shifting from active voice to passive voice.

(Subject) (action)s (direct object)

(Direct object) is (action)ed by (subject)

If you need some arbitrary examples:

In hunting:

  • (The sniper/the archer/the huntsman) targets the target.
  • The target is targeted by the sniper.

In a video game:

  • (The targeting reticle/player/controller) targets the target.
  • The target is targeted by the targeting reticle.

If you want a completely generic word, the most obvious choice is:

  • The targeter targets the target.
  • The target is targeted by the targeter.

Just because your dictionary doesn't list this usage does not mean that it does not exist. "Targeter" is used extensively in computer coding and marketing for the exact usage that you are utilizing.

Have a nice day.


An 'aimer' takes aim at the target and thus targets it.

  • I need a more general term, as 'aimer' implies that a projectile is used, which in my case isn't! Apr 25, 2014 at 15:10
  • 1
    I don't think 'aimer' implies a projectile - you can aim a telescope, after all. Apr 25, 2014 at 15:41
  • Okay, but in the context of my edit, there is no 'setting' up involved... Apr 25, 2014 at 17:46

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