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

Sources tell The Verge that the ongoing AI rivalry between the US and China is largely a matter of recruiting enough global talent. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Why Google might return to China, even if it means censorship," 3 Aug. 2018 These tensions are part of an expanding rivalry and military buildup, with echoes of the Cold War, between Washington and Moscow. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, "In Eastern Europe, U.S. Military Girds Against Russian Might and Manipulation," 27 June 2018 Secrets are unearthed, and a web of rivalries and resentments among frenemy writers emerge for Cormoran and Robin to sort through. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "'C.B. Strike': TV Review," 31 May 2018 Filipinos say many old rivalries and jealousies have been transported intact to Kodiak. Tom Kizzia, Anchorage Daily News, "Who killed Carlos Medina?," 25 Apr. 2018 Stirling told Monk that the trend can be attributed in part to an increase in inmates obtaining cellphones, chronic understaffing, gang rivalries and a higher ratio of violent prisoners to nonviolent ones. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "7 inmates dead, 17 injured after hours of rioting at South Carolina prison," 16 Apr. 2018 There's also a few clips of Mack talking about the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry and his thoughts on the ACC and Virginia. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "The latest CardsHQ podcast takes a look at new Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack," 4 Apr. 2018 In Chinese politics, personal rivalries and differing agendas are rarely visible to the outside world. Bill Powell, Newsweek, "President for Life? Xi Jinping May Now Be China's New Emperor," 5 Mar. 2018 The two mirrored each other nicely with themes of communication and death weaved throughout, and Stamets and Reno's budding rivalry (and amazing technobabble chops) created for some fun moments. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Is All About Friendship and Death This Week," 8 Feb. 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

17 Apr 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 -ries

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

Comments on rivalry

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