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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.