noun, plural run·ners-up.

the competitor, player, or team finishing in second place, as in a race, contest, or tournament.
runners-up, the competitors who do not win a contest but who place ahead of the majority of the contestants and share in prizes or honors, as those who place second, third, and fourth, or in the top ten.

Origin of runner-up

First recorded in 1835–45 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for runner-up

Contemporary Examples of runner-up

Historical Examples of runner-up

  • A purse of $50 was offered for the winner and $30 for the runner-up.

    The Dogs of Boytown

    Walter A. Dyer

  • I won one once—runner-up in the fifth flight over at San Gabriel.


    Charles Emmett Van Loan

  • You see they do say I'm runner-up among the amateurs on the green links.

  • However, as a traitor, I'm not even a runner-up with your father.

  • Last week Mrs. Clement Barstow was runner-up in the women's amateur golf tournament played on the Okoochee eighteen-hole course.


    Edna Ferber

British Dictionary definitions for runner-up


noun plural runners-up

a contestant finishing a race or competition in second 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 runner-up

1842, originally in dog racing, "dog that loses only the final race;" see runner + up. General sense is from 1885.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper