op·​po·​nent | \ ə-ˈpō-nənt How to pronounce opponent (audio) \

Definition of opponent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one that takes an opposite position (as in a debate, contest, or conflict) She is a formidable opponent in the race for senator. opponents of the war
2 : a muscle that opposes or counteracts and limits the action of another



Definition of opponent (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : situated in front

Synonyms for opponent

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of opponent in a Sentence

Noun She is a formidable opponent in the race for senator. The team's opponents have not lost a game this season. He knocked out his opponent in the third round.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Chicago Bears employees set out last week to tackle an opponent. Daniel I. Dorfman, Chicago Tribune, 17 May 2022 That puts the winners bracket undefeated team into the championship game, awaiting an opponent coming back through the elimination bracket on the second day. Dennis Victory, al, 14 May 2022 Want to give an opponent a shoutout for his or her stellar play this season? Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, 14 May 2022 The only game the Cougars will pay an opponent to play will come against Southern Utah at home. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 Chesa Boudin could desperately use something in the recall campaign against him: an opponent. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 May 2022 Urías had given up 10 hits (just the second time in his career an opponent had reached double-digit hits against him) and had a higher pitch count of 79. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 Collins, R-Maine, was a key swing vote who had also voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch, an opponent of contraceptive coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Morgan Sung, NBC News, 5 May 2022 Justice Alito, generally an opponent of citing foreign law, said that the viability framework was at odds with international practice. New York Times, 3 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Outside groups as well as the campaigns of Peters and his opponent Republican John James have spent over $16 million this year in ad reservations, according to data from Kantar/CMAG. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, 13 May 2020 The Cowboys rank a respectable 42nd in opponent field-goal percentage and 85th in 3-point percentage, and the Mountaineers are 253rd and 316th in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, 18 Feb. 2020 In four of Iowa’s five losses, opponent field-goal and 3-point accuracy rates have been so high as to peg the Hawkeyes as being somewhat unlucky in bumping up against a couple too many incredible shooting nights. Marcus Mosher, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, 17 Jan. 2020 The Lions play host to local rival Athens Bible in an area game Monday at 7 p.m. Whitesburg will host area opponent Oakwood Adventist on Tuesday. al, 10 Jan. 2020 Where Manchester City’s great strength is in making itself look good, at least part of Liverpool’s success can be explained by its capacity to make its opponent look bad. Rory Smith, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2019 The Lions have surrendered only four passing touchdowns through four games, and their opponent passer rating is 80.3. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, 1 Oct. 2019 On the other side of the ball, the Blazers’ defense held South Alabama to a measly 2-of-11 on third-down conversions and are now allowing a 21.4 percent opponent conversion rate (9-of-42) for the season. Evan Dudley, al, 21 Sep. 2019 But ex-Invicta champ Felicia Spencer accomplished her goal of making her opponent look human. Steven Marrocco, MMA Junkie, 28 July 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opponent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of opponent


1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for opponent


borrowed from Medieval Latin oppōnent-, oppōnens "one who proposes something for discussion," from present participle of Latin oppōnere "to place as an obstacle, set in opposition to, argue in reply" — more at oppose


borrowed from Latin oppōnent-, oppōnens, present participle of oppōnere "to place as an obstacle, set in opposition to, argue in reply" — more at oppose

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The first known use of opponent was in 1553

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Opponent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opponent. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for opponent


op·​po·​nent | \ ə-ˈpō-nənt How to pronounce opponent (audio) \

Kids Definition of opponent

: a person or thing that takes an opposite position in a contest, fight, or controversy


op·​po·​nent | \ ə-ˈpō-nənt How to pronounce opponent (audio) \

Medical Definition of opponent

: a muscle that opposes or counteracts and limits the action of another

More from Merriam-Webster on opponent

Nglish: Translation of opponent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of opponent for Arabic Speakers


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