[ uh-genst, uh-geynst ]
See synonyms for against on
  1. in opposition to; contrary to; adverse or hostile to: twenty votes against ten;against reason.

  2. in resistance to or defense from: protection against burglars.

  1. in an opposite direction to: to ride against the wind.

  2. into contact or collision with; toward; upon: The rain beat against the window.

  3. in contact with: to lean against the wall.

  4. in preparation for; in provision for: money saved against a rainy day.

  5. having as background: a design of flowers against a dark wall.

  6. in exchange for; as a balance to or debit or charge on: He asked for an advance against his salary.

  7. in competition with: a racehorse running against his own record time.

  8. in comparison or contrast with: a matter of reason as against emotion.

  9. beside; near; before: The car is against the building.

  1. Archaic. before; by the time that.

Idioms about against

  1. over against,

    • positioned across from or opposite; facing: The debate teams were seated over against each other.

    • in contrast with: rich people over against poor people.

Origin of against

First recorded in 1125–75; Middle English agens, ageynes, equivalent to ageyn again + -es -s1; for -tcf. whilst, amongst

Words Nearby against Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use against in a sentence

  • Do not the widow's tears run down the cheek, and her cry against him that causeth them to fall?

  • Vain also was the valour and ability he showed in the campaign against the Royalists in La Vende.

    Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison
  • Beginners must be warned against mistaking the edges of cells, or particles which have retained the red stain, for bacilli.

    A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
  • Whether they had ever, at different times, pleaded for or against the same cause, and cited precedents to prove contrary opinions?

    Gulliver's Travels | Jonathan Swift
  • He leant against the wall of his refuge, notwithstanding this boast, and licked the ice to moisten his parched lips.

    The Giant of the North | R.M. Ballantyne

British Dictionary definitions for against


/ (əˈɡɛnst, əˈɡeɪnst) /

  1. opposed to; in conflict or disagreement with: they fought against the legislation

  2. standing or leaning beside or in front of: a ladder against the wall

  1. coming in contact with: the branches of a tree brushed against the bus

  2. in contrast to: silhouettes are outlines against a light background

  3. having an adverse or unfavourable effect on: the economic system works against small independent companies

  4. as a protection from or means of defence from the adverse effects of: a safeguard against contaminated water

  5. in exchange for or in return for

  6. rare in preparation for: he gave them warm clothing against their journey through the night

  7. as against as opposed to or as compared with: he had two shots at him this time as against only one last time

Origin of against

C12: ageines, from again, ageyn, etc, again + -es genitive ending; the spelling with -t (C16) was probably due to confusion with superlatives ending in -st

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with against


In addition to the idioms beginning with against

  • against all odds
  • against one's better judgment
  • against one's will
  • against the clock
  • against the grain
  • against the tide

also see:

  • beat one's head against the wall
  • cards are stacked against
  • come up against
  • count against
  • dead set against
  • guard against
  • have something against
  • hold something against
  • lift a hand against
  • over against
  • pit someone against
  • run against
  • set against
  • swim against
  • turn against
  • two strikes against
  • up against

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.