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 runners-up

Contemporary Examples of runners-up

Historical Examples of runners-up

  • The others began chorusing their congratulations at once, looking no more convincing than the runners-up in any beauty contest.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Taken objectively there isn't that much difference between myself and the ten runners-up.

    Sense of Obligation

    Henry Maxwell Dempsey (AKA Harry Harrison)

  • As was expected, Buller's easily beat all the outhouses, with Claremont's house as runners-up.

British Dictionary definitions for runners-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 runners-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