What Does 'Squad Goals' Mean?

The phrase squad goals is popping up all over the place. It can mean simply "the goals of your squad" (your friends), but it can also mean much more. 

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read


The phrase "squad goals" has been popping up a lot in the last couple of weeks.

It first came to my attention when Ashley Dodge sent me an article from Buzzfeed because she thought I'd be interested in the new word. It was titled 29 Times The Once Upon a Time Cast Redefined Squad Goals.

Then I saw Lena Dunham write facetiously on Instagram, "I don't know what people mean when they say Squad Goals. Is this it!?" She's referring to a group photo of some of the funniest women in comedy from a Hollywood Reporter article in which they're all wearing jewel-toned dresses like you might see at a sorority formal or on bridesmaids at a wedding.


I don't know what people mean when they say Squad Goals. Is this it!?

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on


And then I knew it had gone completely mainstream when I saw Burger King use it in a tweet with a picture of a stack of burgers. You want these burgers. Squad Goals:


And that is how it often appears on Twitter: as just a photo with the words squad goals, leaving you to wonder what the heck it means if you've never seen it before. 

What Does 'Squad Goals' Mean?

”Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this." So when you see just a picture of hot women with nothing but the comment "squad goals," it means something like "We want to be like them" or "We want to date them." 

For example, I found lots of "squad goals" tweets that were screenshots of Taylor Swift with her tough friends in the new Bad Blood video. 

Another use is to brag or strut. People post pictures of themselves and write "squad goals," or "We are squad goals," or "We are your squad goals," and they mean "We are so awesome you want to be like us," or "You wish you were with us."

But if you browse the Twitter and Instagram hashtag #squadgoals, it also seems like people are using it on pictures where they're just saying they like their friends or had fun with their friends, for example, "Had a great day at the park with my friends. #squadgoals."


And then very occasionally, it seems as if maybe people are using it just as more of a generic "like" or "approve." For example, @CuteOverloads tweeted a "squad goals" picture of an adorable group of dogs, and @SassieBunnies tweeted a "squad goals" picture of adorable bunnies. Maybe it means they want a pack of dogs or a colony of bunnies like this, or maybe it means they think this is an awesome group of dogs or bunnies, or maybe they're mimicking all the people who are posting pictures of their group of friends with the #squadgoals tag, or maybe it means they just like it. Hard to say. At this point, it seems as if you can appropriately put the #squadgoals tag on any positive picture of a group of people, or apparently, animals.


Finally, even though it may seem new to you and me, the #squadgoals hashtag is at least two and a half years old. Using the "who tweeted it first" tool, from the Digital Inspiration site, I found a #squadgoals hashtag from January of 2012. @Katesies6 wrote "Positive thinking #squadgoals for life":

So, as usual, words and meanings that seem new, aren't as new as you think.

After looking at hundreds of "squad goals" posts and soliciting input from adults and teenagers, here's my definition:

squad goals, adj. desirable, awesome, esp. in connection with a group of friends.

If someone says you are squad goals, it's a good thing.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.