[uh-genst, uh-geynst]
in opposition to; contrary to; adverse or hostile to: twenty votes against ten; against reason.
in resistance to or defense from: protection against burglars.
in an opposite direction to: to ride against the wind.
into contact or collision with; toward; upon: The rain beat against the window.
in contact with: to lean against the wall.
in preparation for; in provision for: money saved against a rainy day.
having as background: a design of flowers against a dark wall.
in exchange for; as a balance to or debit or charge on: He asked for an advance against his salary.
in competition with: a racehorse running against his own record time.
in comparison or contrast with: a matter of reason as against emotion.
beside; near; before: The car is against the building.
Archaic. before; by the time that.
over against, in contrast with: the rich over against the poor.

1125–75; Middle English agens, ageynes, equivalent to ageyn again + -es -s1; for -t cf. whilst, amongst Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
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
3.  coming in contact with: the branches of a tree brushed against the bus
4.  in contrast to: silhouettes are outlines against a light background
5.  having an adverse or unfavourable effect on: the economic system works against small independent companies
6.  as a protection from or means of defence from the adverse effects of: a safeguard against contaminated water
7.  in exchange for or in return for
8.  rare in preparation for: he gave them warm clothing against their journey through the night
9.  as against as opposed to or as compared with: he had two shots at him this time as against only one last time
[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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 12c., agenes "in opposition to," a southern variant of agen "again" (see again), with adverbial genitive and a parasitic -t that turned up mid-14c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with against, 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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
During the past twelve months many major currencies have risen against the
They are held against their will and forced to work without pay.
The antibody binding site, tucked away in a stable region of the virus, might
  form the first lasting vaccine against flu.
Of course, this whole thing has been a race against time.
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