Don’t move those goldposts!

Dear Internets:

It’s “move the goalposts” (or “goal posts“). It’s not “move the gold posts (goldposts).” It’s not even “move the goal poles,” although that at least still makes a certain logical and metaphorical sense. Please try to get this right.

Think it through, Internets: moving the goalposts is clearly a sports metaphor. You move the line, the requirements, the criteria for victory while the game is still in progress. This is generally considered to be unfair. While the phrase is usually not strongly negative, the implication is simple: the goalpost mover cheated by changing the conditions during play.

What exactly is a gold post? And why would you need or want to move it?

Recent Google results:

move the goalpost(s)/goal post(s) – approximately 2.4 million hits
move the goldpost(s)/gold post(s) – 792 total hits
move the goal pole(s) – 55 total hits
move the gold pole(s)/goal poll(s)/gold poll(s) – 0 total hits (…well, at least things haven’t got that bad yet!)

There you have it, Internets. I promise not to move the goalposts, if you promise not to mention goldposts ever again.

Content Note: This post inaugurates a new occasional feature, “Dear Internets,” in which I will gently correct (or shake my head and cluck at, or perhaps even raise my fist to shout in fury at) the ignorance of some issue of language use observed in the wild. “The Wild” in this case will probably always be the vast murky ocean of English on the Internet.

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About thebettereditor

Chris holds a BA degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in writing from the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast). He has worked extensively with professional and semi-professional writers and enthusiastic amateurs for about 20 years. He has several years experience in scientific publishing, but has also worked in information technology, insurance, health care, and education (he taught writing at the university level for a number of years). Since 2011, he's also specialized in helping small business meet their writing and editing needs on a budget.
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One Response to Don’t move those goldposts!

  1. atarunomiko says:

    Go, impotent fist of wrath! 😀

    …Just wanted to leave a comment that wasn’t pointing out an error, so that I wouldn’t come across as a total “bitke,” as champion speller Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer would say. 😛

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