1

rival

noun ri·val \ ˈrī-vəl \
Updated on: 27 May 2018

Definition of rival

1 a : one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess
b : one striving for competitive advantage
2 obsolete : companion, associate
3 : equal, peer

Examples of rival in a Sentence

  1. The teams have been longtime rivals.

  2. The men are romantic rivals for her affection.

Recent Examples of rival from the Web

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

On rivals, rivaling, and rivalry

The word rival most commonly refers to a person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group, which means that rivals tend to come in pairs. Candidates running for the same political office are political rivals, and two people trying to earn the exclusive affection of a third are romantic rivals. Teams, schools, or companies might be longtime rivals if they try over many years to outdo each other.

Rival can also mean “equal” or “peer.” When the word is used in this way it's usually conveying how good or impressive something or someone is. For example, "a country musician the rival of any in the world" is as good as the best country musicians in the world. Often a negating word is added to assert superiority, as in "a country musician without rival."

As a verb, rival typically has a meaning that relates to this latter sense of the noun. The verb is most often used to say that someone or something possesses qualities or aptitudes that approach or equal those of another. For example, for one country musician to be rivaling another, the first country musician must be as good as or nearly as good as the other musician. (Note that in U.S. English, the verb's forms are usually spelled rivaled and rivaling; in British English rivalled and rivalling are preferred.)

The noun rivalry has to do with the state or situation in which rivals (usually in the “competitor” sense) exist, or in which rivaling happens. In politics we have political rivalries, and in matters of the heart there are romantic rivalries. Sibling rivalry exists when there is competition or jealousy between sisters or brothers.

Origin and Etymology of rival

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin rivalis one using the same stream as another, rival in love, from rivalis of a stream, from rivus stream — more at run


2

rival

adjective

Definition of rival

: having the same pretensions or claims : competing

Recent Examples of rival from the Web

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

First Known Use of rival

1592

in the meaning defined above

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3

rival

verb

Definition of rival

rivaled or rivalled; rivaling or rivalling play \ˈrīv-(ə-)liŋ\
: to act as a rival : compete
1 : to be in competition with
2 : to strive to equal or excel : emulate
3 : to possess qualities or aptitudes that approach or equal (those of another)

Examples of rival in a Sentence

  1. The company manufactures paper that rivals the world's best.

  2. The new museum will rival the largest in the world.

Recent Examples of rival from the Web

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

First Known Use of rival

1607

in the meaning defined at transitive sense

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

rival Synonyms



RIVAL Defined for English Language Learners

rival

Definition of rival for English Language Learners

  • : a person or thing that tries to defeat or be more successful than another

  • : something or someone that is as good or almost as good as another person or thing


rival

Definition of rival for English Language Learners

  • : to be as good or almost as good as (someone or something)


RIVAL Defined for Kids

1

rival

noun ri·val \ ˈrī-vəl \

Definition of rival for Students

: someone or something that tries to defeat or be more successful than another

History for rival

Rival is borrowed from Latin rivalis. As an adjective made from the noun rivus, “stream,” rivalis meant “of a brook or stream.” As a noun, rivalis was used to refer to those who use the same stream for water. Just as neighbors might dispute each other's rights to a common source of water, disagreement often arises when two people want something that only one can possess. Thus Latin rivalis also developed a sense relating to competition in other areas, and this sense came into English.


2

rival

adjective

Definition of rival for Students

: being equally good
  • rival claims

3

rival

verb

Definition of rival for Students

rivaled or rivalled; rivaling or rivalling
: to be as good as or almost as good as
  • Her skills rival those of the champion.


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