1. One who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another; a competitor.
2. One that equals or almost equals another in a particular respect: She is his rival in sarcasm.
3. Obsolete A companion or an associate in a particular duty.
v. ri·valed, ri·val·ing, ri·vals or ri·valled or ri·val·ling
1. To attempt to equal or surpass.
2. To be the equal of; match: "They achieved more than they had ever dreamed, lending a magic to their family story that no tale of ordinary life could possibly rival" (Doris Kearns Goodwin).
To be a competitor or rival; compete.
[Latin rīvālis, one using the same stream as another, a rival, from rīvus, stream; see rei- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: rival, compete, vie
These verbs mean to seek to equal or surpass another. Rival is the most general: "His ambition led him to rival the career of Edmund Burke" (Henry Adams).
To compete is to contend with another or others to attain a goal, as a victory in a contest: Local hardware stores can't compete with discount outlets. Vie, often interchangeable with compete, sometimes stresses the challenge implicit in rivalry: The top three students vied for the title of valedictorian.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.