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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.
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 opponents
  • When opponents of a game are equally matched, the team dressed in red is more likely to win, according to a new study.
  • But the dam project is still being challenged, both in the courts and among conservationists and other opponents.
  • Some opponents of daylight saving time include the agricultural community, where the loss of early morning daylight is a concern.
  • But what many opponents of the project worry about is what happens if those normal operations fail.
  • opponents to this approach argue that targets need to be internationally binding and enforced.
  • opponents to globalization blame free trade for unfair working conditions.
  • But critics of the law say it is used to stifle political opponents, and that it threatens academic freedom.
  • Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization.
  • Before a fight, many animals size up their opponents-however briefly.
  • But many of his political opponents dispute the reality of climate change as well as any funding to fight it.
British Dictionary definitions for opponents


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 opponents



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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