rival

1 of 3

noun

ri·​val ˈrī-vəl How to pronounce rival (audio)
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

rival

2 of 3

adjective

: having the same pretensions or claims : competing

rival

3 of 3

verb

rivaled or rivalled; rivaling or rivalling ˈrīv-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce rival (audio)

intransitive verb

: to act as a rival : compete

transitive verb

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)

Did you know?

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.

Examples of rival in a Sentence

Noun The teams have been longtime rivals. The men are romantic rivals for her affection. Verb The company manufactures paper that rivals the world's best. The new museum will rival the largest in the world.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Statistical evidence of the damage being done has been around since 2022 when a report from Sheffield Hallam University claimed clubs with parachute payments were three times more likely to be promoted than their rivals. Zak Garner-Purkis, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 Khan has come under severe criticism at home from his rivals who claim Khan tried to block a tranche of $1 billion from the IMF to Pakistan to harm the country’s economy. Munir Ahmed, Quartz, 23 Feb. 2024 The only rival still in the race for the Republican nomination is former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who vows to continue to stay in the race. Morgan Fischer, The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2024 So despite the potential awkwardness of one M.L.S. team’s making money off its rivals, Mr. Beckerman asked Tom Braun, the Galaxy’s president of business operations, if the polo club, much of it lush Bermuda grass lawns, could be used. Ken Belson Alex Welsh, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2024 Other companies also listed as its rivals in some areas include AMD (AMD), Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) and Broadcom (AVGO). Laura He, CNN, 23 Feb. 2024 The Monarchs instead played their longtime postseason rival in the third round of pool play, which in reality was a de facto semifinal. Darren Sabedra, The Mercury News, 22 Feb. 2024 Fresh off scoring a career-high 49 points and setting the NCAA women's career scoring record, Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark looks to finish out the regular season strong with Big Ten rival Indiana up next Thursday night. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 The Dolphins are tied for eighth at 18-1, behind AFC East rival Buffalo at 14-1. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 12 Feb. 2024
Adjective
The crypto infrastructure company would enable its parent to compete with rival CME Group in selling bitcoin futures. Nina Bambysheva, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 There, two rival groups clashed as loyalists to Eritrea’s government held a meeting in a venue that was attacked. Kendrick Marshall, Charlotte Observer, 23 Feb. 2024 The stock traded at about 30 times forward earnings as of Wednesday’s close, compared with rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. at 43 times. Carmen Reinicke, Fortune, 22 Feb. 2024 Waymo rival Cruise has been blamed for the majority of the mayhem. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, 21 Feb. 2024 Join 21 others in the comments View Comments Tate & Lyle was formed in the 1920s when Lyle’s firm merged with rival sugar refinery Henry Tate & Sons. Oscar Holland, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 When Meta shared the raw computer code needed to build a chatbot last year, rival companies said Meta was releasing poorly understood and perhaps even dangerous technology into the world. Nico Grant, New York Times, 21 Feb. 2024 That issue extends to her former rival Survivor queen, two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine. Dalton Ross, EW.com, 21 Feb. 2024 During one of those debates, one of Nikki’s rival candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy, brought her daughter into the conversation, which Nikki quickly shut down. Rebecca Aizin, Peoplemag, 20 Feb. 2024
Verb
The energy demands of AI, particularly for data centers, are soaring, potentially rivalling the consumption of entire countries like Brazil, South Korea or Germany. Sumant Sinha, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 The slam, which gave KU an early 25-15 lead, rivals Timberlake’s dunk over Oklahoma State’s Bryce Thompson on Jan. 16 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, as one of KU’s most exciting plays of the 2023-24 season. Gary Bedore, Kansas City Star, 25 Feb. 2024 Phoenix’s housing crisis is worsening at a rate that rivals record levels, an Arizona Republic analysis found. Laura Daniella Sepulveda, The Arizona Republic, 25 Feb. 2024 About an hour's drive from the well-trafficked Going-to-the-Sun Road, Many Glacier Hotel is a remote alpine cathedral, an escape rivaling any in the Rockies. Jacqueline Kehoe, Travel + Leisure, 22 Feb. 2024 Onetime Texas rivals Diamondback Energy and Endeavor Energy Resources are combining in a $26 billion deal. Morgan Haefner, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2024 His celery was long and firm and one radish rivaled a baseball in size. Blake Nelson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Feb. 2024 The German brand that rivals Adidas is toasting its success and reaping the rewards from a bet on the developing African economy, most recently championed by a partnership with the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 10 Feb. 2024 But in its time, Pegaso established a benchmark rivaling the best automotive efforts from Italy with its sophisticated engineering, over-the-top GT style, and exclusivity matched by its eye-watering price. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 5 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rival.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1592, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1607, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of rival was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near rival

Cite this Entry

“Rival.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rival. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

rival

1 of 3 noun
ri·​val ˈrī-vəl How to pronounce rival (audio)
1
a
: one of two or more trying to get what only one can have
2
: one that equals another : peer

rival

2 of 3 adjective
: of, relating to, or being a rival

rival

3 of 3 verb
rivaled or rivalled; rivaling or rivalling ˈrīv-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce rival (audio)
1
: to be in competition with
2
: to be as good as or almost as good as
manufacture linens that rival the world's best
Etymology

Noun

from early French rival "rival," from Latin rivalis "one using the same stream as another, a rival in love," from rivalis (adjective) "of a stream," from rivus "stream"

Word Origin
The English word rival can be traced to the Latin word rivus, meaning "a stream." From rivus came the Latin rivalis, which meant "one who uses the same stream as another." Those who must share a stream may argue about who has the right to use the water. Such disputes are common when two people want the same thing. The Latin word rivalis in time came to be used for other people who are also likely to fight with each other. It meant "a man in love with the same woman as another man." This sense of rivalis came into English as rival.

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