move the goalposts

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move the goalposts

To alter the rules or parameters of a situation in such a way as to suit one's needs or objectives, making it more difficult for someone else to succeed, keep pace, or achieve an opposing objective. I hate arguing with that type of person. As soon as you start wearing down their logic, they just move the goalposts on the whole thing! We're never going to get the book design finished in time if the publisher keeps moving the goalposts every couple of months like this! Claiming victory after cutting the tax by a small fraction when in fact you had said you'd abolish it altogether is really moving the goalposts, isn't it?
See also: move

move the goalposts

If someone moves the goalposts, they change the rules or aims in a situation or activity, in order to gain an advantage and to make things more difficult for the other people involved. He was always moving the goalposts so that we could never anticipate what he wanted. They seem to move the goalposts every time I meet the required conditions. Note: You can also say that someone shifts the goalposts. The administration is shifting the goalposts and changing its demands.
See also: move

move (or shift) the goalposts

unfairly alter the conditions or rules of a procedure during its course.
1989 Dimensions Many companies have, in recent years, moved the goalposts so that those who used to qualify no longer do so.
See also: move

move the ˈgoalposts

(informal, disapproving, especially British English) change the rules for something, or the conditions under which it is done, so that the situation becomes more difficult for somebody: Our union is angry at the management for moving the goalposts during the pay talks. Every time agreement is reached they put up another obstacle.
See also: move