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[uh-poh-nuh nt] /əˈpoʊ nənt/
a person who is on an opposing side in a game, contest, controversy, or the like; adversary.
being opposite, as in position.
opposing; adverse; antagonistic.
Anatomy. bringing parts together or into opposition, as a muscle.
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
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.
1. ally, friend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for opponent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Fifthly;—I had come once already; my opponent was on his guard about me.

    The Bbur-nma in English Babur, Emperor of Hindustan
  • It was a battle of one against an opponent who had no idea battle was intended.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • Wolfe—soon to be his opponent—had the same taste for letters.

    The Conquest of New France George M. Wrong
  • In the act of striking him, the torrent of his opponent's rage had reached a stop.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • We are not repelled much by his eagerness to refute and maltreat his opponent.

    Gibbon James Cotter Morison
British Dictionary definitions for opponent


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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