Moving the goalposts


      • changing the rules
        Shifting the criteria or standards for success or achievement in a way that makes it harder to reach the goal

      • being unfair
        Unfairly changing the conditions or requirements of a situation, usually to the disadvantage of someone else

    Examples of Moving the goalposts

    • The deadline for the project was originally set for next Tuesday, but the manager suddenly changed it to Thursday, moving the goalposts at the last minute.

      Moving the goalposts refers to changing the rules unexpectedly, making it more difficult to achieve a desired outcome. In this case, the manager moved the deadline forward, making it more challenging for the team to complete the project within the shortened timeframe. This idiom is often used to criticize someone for making sudden and unfavorable changes, especially after a commitment or agreement has already been made.

    • Initially, the project's success was measured by meeting a specific target by the end of the year. However, as the deadline approached and it became clear that the target would not be met, the company suddenly changed the goalposts and redefined success as meeting a lower target. This is an example of moving the goalposts.

      The idiom "moving the goalposts" is used to describe a situation where the rules of a game or a situation are unexpectedly changed, usually to the disadvantage of the other participants. In this example, the company changed the goalposts by redefining success at the last minute, making it easier for them to achieve but unfair to those who had already worked towards the original target. This can be frustrating and unfair, as it can change the nature of the game and give an unfair advantage to those who benefit from the changed rules.


    The idiom "moving the goalposts" is often used to describe a situation where someone changes the rules or standards for success in a way that makes it harder for others to achieve their goals. This can be used to discourage someone or to be unfair in a particular situation.

    It can also be used to caution against engaging in a task or activity where the rules or conditions are likely to change in an unfair or disadvantageous way. Overall, the idiom is used to convey the idea of changing standards or rules to make it harder to achieve a goal or to be unfair in a situation.

    Origin of "Moving the goalposts"

    The origin of the idiom "moving the goalposts" is believed to come from sports, particularly football (soccer). In football, the goalposts are the two upright posts at either end of the field where the ball must pass to score a goal. The idiom likely originated from the practice of moving the goalposts to make it harder for the opposing team to score.

    In a more figurative sense, the idiom came to be used to describe changing the conditions or standards for success in a way that makes it harder for others to achieve their goals. This can be seen in various aspects of life, such as in business, politics, or personal relationships. Overall, the idiom "moving the goalposts" has its origins in sports but has come to be used in a broader context to describe unfair or changing standards for success.