A rival is a competitor or contender that you want to defeat, whether in an actual competition or for another goal. It may be a tennis rival or a rival for your true love’s affections.

There are all types of rivals, but they tend to show up a lot in sports. For example, in college football, the Army and Navy have been rivals since their first meeting in 1890. Something that is able to rival something else is seen as comparable to it in quality, and something that is said to be “without rival” is unmatched, or better than everything else.

Definitions of rival
  1. noun
    the contestant you hope to defeat
    “he had respect for his rivals
    synonyms: challenger, competition, competitor, contender
    see moresee less
    show 14 types...
    hide 14 types...
    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, nemesis
    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    a competitor who has withdrawn from competition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
  2. verb
    be the rival of, be in competition with
    “we are rivaling for first place in the race”
    see moresee less
    outrival, outvie
    be more of a rival than
    type of:
    compete, contend, vie
    compete for something; engage in a contest; measure oneself against others
  3. verb
    be equal to in quality or ability
    “Nothing can rival cotton for durability”
    synonyms: equal, match, touch
    equal, equalise, equalize, equate, match
    make equal, uniform, corresponding, or matching
    see moresee less
    type of:
    compete, contend, vie
    compete for something; engage in a contest; measure oneself against others
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week