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  1. a person who is on an opposing side in a game, contest, controversy, or the like; adversary.
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  1. being opposite, as in position.
  2. opposing; adverse; antagonistic.
  3. Anatomy. bringing parts together or into opposition, as a muscle.
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Origin of opponent

1580–90; < Latin oppōnent- (stem of oppōnēns, present participle of oppōnere to place over, against, or in front of, make an obstacle), equivalent to op- op- + pōn(ere) to place, set, put + -ent- -ent


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1. antagonist. Opponent, competitor, rival refer to persons engaged in a contest. Opponent is the most impersonal, meaning merely one who opposes; perhaps one who continually blocks and frustrates or one who happens to be on the opposite side in a temporary contest: an opponent in a debate. Competitor emphasizes the action in striving against another, or others, for a definite, common goal: competitors in business. Rival has both personal and emotional connotations; it emphasizes the idea that (usually) two persons are struggling to attain the same object: rivals for an office.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for opponent


  1. a person who opposes another in a contest, battle, etc
  2. anatomy an opponent muscle
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  1. opposite, as in position
  2. anatomy (of a muscle) bringing two parts into opposition
  3. opposing; contrary
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Derived Formsopponency, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin oppōnere to oppose, from ob- against + pōnere to place
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

Word Origin and History for opponent


1580s, from Latin opponentem (nominative opponens), present participle of opponere "oppose, object to," literally "set against, set opposite," from ob "against" (see ob-) + ponere "to put, set, place" (see position).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper