rival

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

Definition of rival

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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

adjective

Definition of rival (Entry 2 of 3)

: having the same pretensions or claims : competing

rival

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

Definition of rival (Entry 3 of 3)

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)

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On Rivals, Rivaling, and Rivalry

Noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Firmino moved to Anfield for £29m in the summer of 2015, joining alongside Benteke, who cost £3.5m more when moving from Premier League rivals Aston Villa. SI.com, "Brendan Rodgers Was 'Unsure' About Bringing Roberto Firmino to Liverpool During Anfield Stint," 16 Sep. 2019 At the same time, Sanders’ proposed solution to the problem posed by Mitch McConnell’s hardball tactics is even more audacious than what his rivals have proposed. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Sanders and Warren Plot Their End Run Around the Senate," 13 Sep. 2019 Joe Biden parried attack after attack from liberal rivals Thursday night on everything from health care to immigration in a debate that showcased profound ideological divides between the Democratic Party's moderate and progressive wings. Bill Barrow And Steve Peoples, chicagotribune.com, "The Democratic debate featured some fiery exchanges and put the divide between liberal and moderate candidates on display," 12 Sep. 2019 Yet until Thursday night, Ms. Warren, who is rising in the polls, had not yet faced serious scrutiny on the debate stage from her most prominent rivals. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "Zingers, Groaners and a Trump Pile-On: ‘That’s Called the Democratic Primary’," 12 Sep. 2019 Tsai is capitalizing on this anxiety; recent polls have her starting to create serious separation from her rivals, who have had to modify their own stances on Beijing given the tensions in Hong Kong. Therese Shaheen, National Review, "The Need to Clarify and Strengthen Our Relationship with Taiwan," 11 Sep. 2019 Tencent is a powerful ally, as WeChat blocks links from rivals, including Alibaba. Wired, "China Has an Ecommerce Giant You’ve Never Heard Of," 9 Sep. 2019 Trump faces no competitive threat here or elsewhere, but the move reduces any potential hassle from rivals on the floor at the 2020 convention in Charlotte. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Republican Party prepares to scrap 2020 presidential preference election in Arizona," 6 Sep. 2019 At the same time, Sonos is looking to differentiate itself from rivals in the smart speaker market, including Amazon (AMZN), with the introduction of another new speaker. Kaya Yurieff, CNN, "Sonos finally introduces a portable speaker," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Lamar Consolidated The Lamar Consolidated football team defeated rival Terry for the second consecutive season, 56-28 on Sept. 13 at Traylor Stadium. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "FBISD notebook: Travis football rallies to remain undefeated," 16 Sep. 2019 Colorado The Buffaloes stormed back last week for a rousing home win over rival Nebraska. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "The Rundown: A Week 3 Light on Flashy Matchups Still Manages to Deliver," 15 Sep. 2019 Seminole’s defense turned a close district contest on the road against rival DeLand into a dominant showing down the stretch Friday at Spec Martin Stadium. J.c. Carnahan, orlandosentinel.com, "Seminole defense derails DeLand in district opener," 14 Sep. 2019 The Buffaloes were coming off an emotional overtime win over old rival Nebraska, and who was waiting for them a week later but Air Force? Los Angeles Times, "NCAA’s argument against Fair Pay for Play has no merit and Week 3 mismatches prove it," 14 Sep. 2019 Wand adds, referencing rival Lemonade's giant backer. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "The Insurance CEO Who Gives Customers His Cellphone Number," 13 Sep. 2019 But a win over rival Central could instantly turn the tide. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "High school football: Week 3 predictions," 12 Sep. 2019 With so many options at his disposal, do not expect Reich to tip his hand and give this weekend's opponent -- the AFC South rival Tennessee Titans -- any clues about what the Colts offense might look like come Sunday afternoon. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: How the Colts can fill Devin Funchess' role while receiver is on IR," 9 Sep. 2019 The Panthers can’t dwell on this loss as they host division rival Tampa Bay (0-1) on Thursday night. Steve Reed, The Denver Post, "Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey could use some help on offense," 9 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bonet and Momoa stepped out for the premiere of Apple TV+'s See—in which Momoa stars—each shaking out idiosyncratic hairstyles rivaled only by one another. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa Prove They Have the Best Couples Hair in Hollywood," 22 Oct. 2019 Not only were the free flowing curls that abound gorgeous, healthy, and covetable, they were rivaled by the other innovative styles worn by festival-goers. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "25 Creative Ponytails And Buns From Curlfest Atlanta We Want To Try," 23 Sep. 2019 Hernández is one of cinema history’s most accomplished visual stylists (rivaled only by Zack Snyder this century). Armond White, National Review, "Tattoo of Revenge Turns Our Modern Spiritual Crisis into Film Noir," 20 Sep. 2019 Since then, Airbnb has grown into one of the world’s largest home-sharing platforms, rivaled only by Booking.com. BostonGlobe.com, "Airbnb says it will go public in 2020 - The Boston Globe," 20 Sep. 2019 Since then, Airbnb has grown into one of the world’s largest home-sharing platforms, rivaled only by Booking.com. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Airbnb says it will go public in 2020," 19 Sep. 2019 Since then, Airbnb has grown into one of the world’s largest home-sharing platforms, rivaled only by Booking.com. Washington Post, "Airbnb says it will go public in 2020," 19 Sep. 2019 The wealthier that South Korea becomes, the more an ascendant Seoul begins to rival — and worry — Tokyo. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Ghosts of World War II," 5 Sep. 2019 The wealthier that South Korea becomes, the more an ascendant Seoul begins to rival — and worry — Tokyo. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: The ghosts of World War II," 5 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of rival

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

History and Etymology for rival

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

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Statistics for rival

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for rival

The first known use of rival was in 1577

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More Definitions for rival

rival

noun
How to pronounce rival (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rival

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

verb

English Language Learners Definition of rival (Entry 2 of 2)

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

rival

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

Kids Definition of rival

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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

rival

adjective

Kids Definition of rival (Entry 2 of 3)

: being equally good rival claims

rival

verb
rivaled or rivalled; rivaling or rivalling

Kids Definition of rival (Entry 3 of 3)

: to be as good as or almost as good as Her skills rival those of the champion.

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More from Merriam-Webster on rival

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rival

Spanish Central: Translation of rival

Nglish: Translation of rival for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rival for Arabic Speakers

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