op·​por·​tun·​ist | \ˌä-pər-ˈtü-nist, -ˈtyü-\

Definition of opportunist 

: one that is opportunistic or that practices opportunism a slick, shady, amoral opportunist who has only one desire: to get through life without a day of labor— Allan Ulrich Most burglars are opportunists.

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Other Words from opportunist

opportunist adjective

Synonyms for opportunist


bottom-feeder, chancer [British], self-seeker, temporizer

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Examples of opportunist in a Sentence

a political opportunist who changed his health-care plan to win the election ever the opportunist, she immediately set about becoming the incoming administrator's new best friend

Recent Examples on the Web

The wealthy media owner is often presented as either a philanthropist stepping in to save a legacy brand from oblivion, or as an opportunist trying to launder their reputation and influence the political conversation in their favor. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Other Side of Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post," 27 June 2018 These are politically motivated opportunists who use their offices for their own personal enrichment. Fox News, "Dad of Parkland victim reacts to release of shooter's videos," 1 June 2018 The lamentations kept pouring in throughout the evening, including from the national Democratic campaign committees, MoveOn, Tom Steyer, and other political opportunists. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Whom Do Red-State Democrats Fear Most?," 11 July 2018 Political rivals over the years have attempted to paint Warren as a liar and an opportunist. NBC News, "Fact check: Trump wants Warren to prove her Native American heritage. Could she?," 6 July 2018 In movies, the music industry’s shady opportunists are often cast as overly tan white men with heavy gold chains, who wear their dyed hair teased high. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Forced to Perform As Aretha Franklin," 2 July 2018 Like any good opportunist, Martin found a way to turn the old thing into the next big thing. refinery29.com, "Read This & You’ll Never Hear “...Baby One More Time” The Same Way Again," 26 June 2018 Sadr is a savvy operator, a seasoned opportunist who has shifted position over and over. Thanassis Cambanis, BostonGlobe.com, "How did Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr become a statesman? People just got used to him," 26 May 2018 While Mobutu himself had not travelled to Germany, a massive entourage had, and players suspected what bonuses had actually been put up by the president (their only income as amateurs) had been siphoned away by opportunists and hangers-on. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 11 Weeks to Go - Broken Promises, a Dictator & the Tragedy of Zaire 1974," 7 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of opportunist

1873, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opportunist

opportun(ism) + -ist entry 1, probably after French opportuniste

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The first known use of opportunist was in 1873

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English Language Learners Definition of opportunist

: someone who tries to get an advantage or something valuable from a situation without thinking about what is fair or right


op·​por·​tun·​ist | \ˌäp-ər-ˈt(y)ü-nəst \

Medical Definition of opportunist 

: an opportunistic microorganism

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full of whispering sounds

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