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 No football season meant the cancellation of rivalry games, like the Little Brown Jug (Michigan versus Minnesota) and the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana versus Purdue), that had been played for a century or more. New York Times, "Was the College Football Season Worth It?," 30 Dec. 2020 That said, rivalry games have their place, and UCLA would certainly be all right with scuttling any remote playoff chance the Trojans might have. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Five games in Week 15 that will impact the College Football Playoff," 12 Dec. 2020 Nix grew up watching the Iron Bowl, grew up with dreams of leading the Tigers to victory in one of the biggest rivalry games in the country. Giana Han, al, "Quarterback Bo Nix struggled but continued to fight in first Iron Bowl loss," 30 Nov. 2020 Oviedo and Lake Mary means tickets may be hard to come by for Seminole Athletic Conference rivalry games in 8A. Just 300 tickets will be available for Hagerty fans when that link goes live online later this week. J.c. Carnahan, orlandosentinel.com, "FHSAA football playoff ticket, streaming options; Edgewater vs. St. Cloud canceled due to COVID," 17 Nov. 2020 But its interesting to note how rivalry games can throw a wrench into what could be a perfect season. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, "IU, Purdue and Notre Dame football are all undefeated — can they keep it up?," 12 Nov. 2020 The team with the most rushing yards has won 45 times in the last 50 rivalry games. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football: What we learned vs. Rutgers, what to watch at No. 14 Michigan," 25 Oct. 2020 Chris Ash and Mike Yurcich are no strangers to rivalry games. Dallas News, "Texas coordinators Ash, Yurcich discuss anticipation of their first Red River Showdown; Jordan Whittington expected to play," 7 Oct. 2020 With several important rivalry games and district matchups on the schedule, our weekly look at the top high school football games involving Louisville-area schools has expanded this week. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "7 of the top high school football games to see in the Louisville area this weekend," 6 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for rivalry

Time Traveler

The first known use of rivalry was in 1598

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Statistics for rivalry

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rivalry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rivalry. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for rivalry

rivalry

noun
How to pronounce rivalry (audio)

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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Comments on rivalry

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