(move/shift) the goalposts


1. change the rules in an ongoing situation






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move/shift the goalposts by suddenly changing your demands

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If someone ‘moves the goalposts’ or ‘shifts the goalposts’, it means they change the requirements, objectives or criteria in a way that often makes things more difficult for someone else or in order to gain an advantage. When you ‘shift the goalposts’ the implication is that the changes are unjust or unfair or different to what was originally agreed. This is a phrase you will hear in social and professional contexts. Similar in meaning to ‘raise the bar’.

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  1. The movie has shifted the goalposts for what can be achieved in animation in the world of cinema.
  2. If I'm ever getting the upper-hand on Laura in a debate about something, she just moves the goalposts to make the whole argument about something else!

Check Icon Professional Examples (Advance)

  1. It is very hard to get any work done in an environment where management is always shifting the goalposts so that the objectives are never clear.
  2. The negotiations with the company were extremely difficult because as soon as we met one of their conditions, they moved the goalposts and changed their demands

Check Icon Further Suggestions

change of tack alter

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