1350–1400; Middle English
< Old French opposer,
blend of Latin oppōnere
to set against and Old French poser
, associated with the L past participle oppositus
opposer, nounopposingly, adverbnonopposing, adjectivepreoppose, verb (used with object), preopposed, preopposing.preopposed, adjectivequasi-opposed, adjectivereoppose, verb (used with object), reopposed, reopposing.unopposed, adjectiveunopposing, adjective
confront, contravene. Oppose, resist, withstand
imply setting up a force against something. The difference between oppose
is somewhat that between offensive and defensive action. To oppose
is mainly to fight against, in order to thwart, certain tendencies or procedures of which one does not approve: The lobbyists opposed the passage of the bill. Resist
suggests that the subject is already threatened by the forces, or by the imminent possibility, against which he or she struggles: to resist temptation.
Again, whereas oppose
always suggests an attitude of great disapproval, resist
may imply an inner struggle in which the will is divided: She tried unsuccessfully to resist the temptation to eat dessert. Withstand
generally implies successful resistance; it may refer to endurance that allows one to emerge unharmed (to withstand a shock
), as well as to active resistance: to withstand an attack. 2.