Baseball players, boxers, politicians: each is a contender in that they compete or campaign to win something.

Contender has a slightly different meaning than competitor, often implying a more vigorous, even scrappier, sense of taking on every unexpected challenge. The most famous use of contender is Marlon Brando's quote in the film On The Waterfront. Brando plays a once promising boxer whose career has been ruined by a fixed fight. "I coulda been a contender!" Brando cried, implying he could have been the boxer whom everyone wanted to defeat.

Definitions of contender

n the contestant you hope to defeat

challenger, competition, competitor, rival
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champ, champion, title-holder
someone who has won first place in a competition
someone with a promising future
a contestant who reaches the final stages of a competition
enemy, foe
a personal enemy
favorite, favourite, front-runner
a competitor thought likely to win
king, queen, world-beater
a competitor who holds a preeminent position
runner-up, second best
the competitor who finishes second
a competitor who has withdrawn from competition
one of four competitors remaining in a tournament by elimination
street fighter
a contestant who is very aggressive and willing to use underhand methods
any one of two or more competitors who tie one another
someone who engages in a tilt or joust
mortal enemy
an enemy who wants to kill you
record-breaker, record-holder
someone who breaks a record
Type of:
a person who participates in competitions

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