noun ri·val·ry \ ˈrī-vəl-rē \
|Updated on: 10 Jul 2018

Definition of rivalry

plural rivalries
: the act of rivaling : the state of being a rival : competition

Examples of rivalry in a Sentence

  1. There is a bitter rivalry between the two groups.

  2. a strong sense of rivalry

Recent Examples of rivalry from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rivalry.' 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.

First Known Use of rivalry


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RIVALRY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of rivalry for English Language Learners

  • : a state or situation in which people or groups are competing with each other

RIVALRY Defined for Kids


noun ri·val·ry \ ˈrī-vəl-rē \

Definition of rivalry for Students

plural rivalries
: the state of trying to defeat or be more successful than another : competition

Medical Dictionary


noun ri·val·ry \ ˈrī-vəl-rē \

medical Definition of rivalry

plural -ries
1 : a competitive or antagonistic state or condition

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peaceful, happy, or prosperous

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