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.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
opponent (əˈpəʊnənt)
1.  a person who opposes another in a contest, battle, etc
2.  anatomy an opponent muscle
3.  opposite, as in position
4.  anatomy (of a muscle) bringing two parts into opposition
5.  opposing; contrary
[C16: from Latin oppōnere to oppose, from ob- against + pōnere to place]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1588, from L. opponentem (nom. opponens), prp. of opponere "oppose, object to, set against," from ob "against" + ponere "to put, set, place" (see position).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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.
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