rivalry

noun
ri·​val·​ry | \ ˈrī-vəl-rē How to pronounce rivalry (audio) \
plural rivalries

Definition of rivalry

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

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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 rivalry in a Sentence

There is a bitter rivalry between the two groups. a strong sense of rivalry

Recent Examples on the Web

Our results suggest that the world looked different to U.S. elites after the rivalry with the Soviet Union ended. Jonathan M. Dicicco, Washington Post, "Fifty years ago, American troops abandoned Khe Sanh. Here’s how the U.S. got over ‘Vietnam syndrome.’," 5 July 2018 Nas had a rivalry with fellow New Yorker Jay-Z that came to a head in 2001 with a pair of high-profile diss records. Spencer Shroyer, Anchorage Daily News, "12 songs to brush up on before seeing Nas, one of the greatest rappers alive," 7 June 2018 In the halcyon days of the mid-aughts, when Us Weekly catalogued teen starlet rivalries with unflagging enthusiasm, Duff feuded with many of her contemporaries. Allie Jones, The Cut, "I Think About This a Lot: Hilary Duff’s Feud With Faye Dunaway," 4 June 2018 Orlando City’s rivalry with Atlanta United is barely one season old, but matches between the two clubs have an atmosphere typically reserved for the MLS playoffs. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City expects playoff atmosphere when Lions host rival Atlanta United," 8 May 2018 At the same time, Abbas' bitter rivalry with Hamas has flared up again in recent weeks, making Palestinian reconciliation extremely unlikely. NBC News, "Palestinian leader Abbas apologizes for speech condemned as anti-Semitic," 4 May 2018 Opening the gym reignites Lawrence’s old rivalry with LaRusso, who runs a successful car dealership, but is struggling to find balance in life without his sensei Mr. Miyagi. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Karate Kid's Ralph Macchio and William Zabka on Reprising Their Roles 34 Years Later," 2 May 2018 Driven partly by strategic rivalries with China and Pakistan, New Delhi’s spending increased 5.5 percent in 2017 from 2016 to reach $63.9 billion. Bloomberg.com, "Bloomberg," 2 May 2018 As the season nears its end, two A-list rivalry games tip off Saturday night. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, "College Basketball’s Perfect Weekend," 8 Mar. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of rivalry

1598, in the meaning defined above

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Learn More about rivalry

Dictionary Entries near rivalry

rivalize

rivalless

rivalrous

rivalry

rivalship

rive

rivel

Statistics for rivalry

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rivalry

The first known use of rivalry was in 1598

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More Definitions for rivalry

rivalry

noun

English Language Learners Definition of rivalry

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

rivalry

noun
ri·​val·​ry | \ ˈrī-vəl-rē How to pronounce rivalry (audio) \
plural rivalries

Kids Definition of rivalry

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

rivalry

noun
ri·​val·​ry | \ ˈrī-vəl-rē How to pronounce rivalry (audio) \
plural rivalries

Medical Definition of rivalry

1 : a competitive or antagonistic state or condition

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More from Merriam-Webster on rivalry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rivalry

Spanish Central: Translation of rivalry

Nglish: Translation of rivalry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rivalry for Arabic Speakers

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