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Rival vs. Enemy: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 11, 2024
A rival is a competitor seeking the same goal or superiority in the same field, while an enemy is someone who opposes or is actively hostile to someone or something.
Rival vs. Enemy

Key Differences

A rival typically refers to a person, group, or entity competing in the same field or for the same goal, often in a sports, business, or academic context. An enemy, however, is used to describe an individual or group that holds animosity, opposes, or seeks to harm another.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
The relationship with a rival is competitive but not necessarily hostile; it can be based on mutual respect. In contrast, the term enemy implies hostility, conflict, and a deeper level of antagonism.
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Jan 11, 2024
Rivalry often drives individuals or groups to improve or outperform each other, but it doesn’t inherently involve malice or harm. An enemy relationship, however, is marked by intentions to thwart, harm, or defeat the other, often stemming from deeper grievances or conflicts.
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Jan 11, 2024
Rivalries can be temporary and situation-specific, changing over time. Enmity, representing deeper and more enduring opposition, often persists regardless of changing circumstances.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 11, 2024
Rivalry can have positive connotations, encouraging growth and excellence. Enmity, on the other hand, is generally viewed negatively, associated with conflict and destruction.
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Jan 11, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Competitor in the same field
Opposer with hostility
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Relationship Nature

Competitive, potentially respectful
Hostile, antagonistic
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Intensity

Motivation for improvement
Intent to harm or obstruct
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Duration

Often temporary or situational
Can be long-lasting
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Connotation

Can be positive
Generally negative
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Rival and Enemy Definitions

Rival

A rival is someone who competes for the same prize or honor.
The two athletes were long-time rivals in the 100-meter dash.
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Dec 25, 2023

Enemy

Enemy implies a relationship marked by conflict and antagonism.
Diplomatic talks aimed to resolve tensions with the enemy nation.
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Rival

A rival is a competitor in the same field or activity.
She viewed the other team as a worthy rival in the championship.
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Enemy

An enemy is often associated with danger, threat, or harm.
Caution was crucial in the presence of a known enemy.
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Rival

Rival can imply a challenger seeking the same objective.
The two companies were rivals in the technology market.
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Enemy

An enemy is a person, group, or nation opposing or hostile to another.
In the movie, the superhero faced his greatest enemy.
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Rival

Rival may refer to an opponent in a friendly competition.
He always considered his classmate a rival in academic contests.
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Enemy

One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes another; a foe.
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Dec 13, 2023

Rival

One who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another; a competitor.
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Enemy

One who opposes or is hostile to an idea or cause
An enemy of democracy.
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Rival

One that equals or almost equals another in a particular respect
She is his rival in sarcasm.
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Enemy

Something destructive or injurious in its effects
"Art hath an enemy called Ignorance" (Ben Jonson).
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Rival

(Obsolete) A companion or an associate in a particular duty.
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Enemy

A hostile power or force, such as a nation.
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Rival

To attempt to equal or surpass.
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Enemy

A member or unit of such a force.
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Rival

To be the equal of; match
"They achieved more than they had ever dreamed, lending a magic to their family story that no tale of ordinary life could possibly rival" (Doris Kearns Goodwin).
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Enemy

A group of foes or hostile forces. See Usage Note at collective noun.
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Rival

To be a competitor or rival; compete.
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Enemy

Of, relating to, or being a hostile power or force.
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Rival

A competitor (person, team, company, etc.) with the same goal as another, or striving to attain the same thing. Defeating a rival may be a primary or necessary goal of a competitor.
Chris is my biggest rival in the 400-metre race.
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Enemy

Someone who is hostile to, feels hatred towards, opposes the interests of, or intends injury to someone else.
Under enemy duress
He made a lot of enemies after reducing the working hours in his department.
You may not want any enemies, but sometimes, your enemies choose you.
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Rival

Someone or something with similar claims of quality or distinction as another.
As a social historian, he has no rival.
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Enemy

A hostile force or nation; a fighting member of such a force or nation.
Rally together against a common enemy.
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Rival

(obsolete) One having a common right or privilege with another; a partner.
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Enemy

Something harmful or threatening to another
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Rival

Having the same pretensions or claims; standing in competition for superiority.
Rival lovers; rival claims or pretensions
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Enemy

Of, by, relating to, or belonging to an enemy.
The building was destroyed by enemy bombing.
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Rival

(transitive) To oppose or compete with.
To rival somebody in love
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Enemy

(video games) A non-player character that tries to harm the player.
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Rival

To be equal to, or match, or to surpass another.
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Enemy

To make an enemy of.
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Rival

To strive to equal or excel; to emulate.
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Enemy

One hostile to another; one who hates, and desires or attempts the injury of, another; a foe; an adversary; as, an enemy of or to a person; an enemy to truth, or to falsehood.
To all good he enemy was still.
I say unto you, Love your enemies.
It was difficult in such a country to track the enemy. It was impossible to drive him to bay.
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Rival

A person having a common right or privilege with another; a partner.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
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Enemy

Hostile; inimical.
They . . . every day grow more enemy to God.
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Rival

One who is in pursuit of the same object as another; one striving to reach or obtain something which another is attempting to obtain, and which one only can posses; a competitor; as, rivals in love; rivals for a crown.
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Enemy

An opposing military force;
The enemy attacked at dawn
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Rival

Having the same pretensions or claims; standing in competition for superiority; as, rival lovers; rival claims or pretensions.
The strenuous conflicts and alternate victories of two rival confederacies of statesmen.
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Enemy

An armed adversary (especially a member of an opposing military force);
A soldier must be prepared to kill his enemies
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Rival

To stand in competition with; to strive to gain some object in opposition to; as, to rival one in love.
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Enemy

Any hostile group of people;
He viewed lawyers as the real enemy
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Rival

To strive to equal or exel; to emulate.
To rival thunder in its rapid course.
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Enemy

A personal enemy;
They had been political foes for years
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Rival

To be in rivalry.
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Enemy

Enemy refers to someone who actively seeks to harm or oppose.
The general prepared his troops for an attack by the enemy.
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Rival

The contestant you hope to defeat;
He had respect for his rivals
He wanted to know what the competition was doing
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Enemy

An enemy can be a personal adversary with deep-seated animosity.
He considered the traitor within their ranks a personal enemy.
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Rival

Be equal to in quality or ability;
Nothing can rival cotton for durability
Your performance doesn't even touch that of your colleagues
Her persistence and ambition only matches that of her parents
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Rival

Be the rival of, be in competition with;
We are rivaling for first place in the race
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Rival

A rival can be a competitor one seeks to outdo or surpass.
The artist saw her contemporary as a rival in creativity.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can a rival become an enemy?

Yes, if the competition escalates to hostility or conflict.
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Jan 11, 2024

Is an enemy always harmful?

Typically, an enemy implies harm or opposition.
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Can someone have a friendly rival?

Yes, rivals in sports or business can have a friendly, respectful competition.
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Are enemies found only in war?

No, enemies can exist in personal, political, or business contexts as well.
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Do enemies always stay enemies?

Not necessarily; reconciliation or changes in circumstances can alter the relationship.
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Give an example of a sports rivalry.

The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in baseball is a famous example.
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What's the origin of the word "rival"?

The word "rival" comes from the Latin word "rivalis," meaning "a person using the same stream as another."
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Can a friendly rivalry exist?

Yes, a friendly rivalry is a non-hostile competition where individuals or groups challenge each other in a spirit of camaraderie.
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Can a rivalry be positive?

Yes, rivalry can drive individuals or groups to improve and achieve more.
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Is rivalry common in sports?

Yes, sports often involve rivalries between teams or athletes.
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Do rivals have to be in direct competition?

Rivals are typically in direct competition, but they can also be indirectly competing for similar resources or recognition.
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Can a misunderstanding create enemies?

Yes, misunderstandings, conflicts of interest, or differing beliefs can lead to the perception of someone as an enemy.
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Are rivals always individuals?

No, rivals can be individuals, teams, companies, or any entities competing against each other.
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What's the origin of the word "enemy"?

The word "enemy" has its origins in Old French and Latin, meaning "hostile, unfriendly."
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Is the term "enemy" always associated with warfare?

No, the term can be used in various contexts, including personal, political, and social conflicts.
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Can an enemy be someone you've never met?

Yes, an enemy can be someone you've never met if they are perceived as a threat or adversary.
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Jan 11, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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