Webster 1913 Edition



(?; 277)
, AS.
. The s is adverbial, orig. a genitive ending. See
Abreast; opposite to; facing; towards;
the mouth of a river
; – in this sense often preceded by over.
Jacob saw the angels of God come
From an opposite direction so as to strike or come in contact with; in contact with; upon;
as, hail beats
the roof
In opposition to, whether the opposition is of sentiment or of action; on the other side; counter to; in contrariety to; hence, adverse to;
law; to run a race
The gate would have been shut
An argument
the use of steam.
By of before the time that; in preparation for; so as to be ready for the time when.
[Archaic or Dial.]
Urijah the priest made it,
King Ahaz came from Damascus.
2 Kings xvi. 11.
Against the sun
in a direction contrary to that in which the sun appears to move.

Webster 1828 Edition



, prep. agenst'.
In opposition; noting enmity or disapprobation.
His hand will be against every man. Gen. 16.
I am against your pillows. Ez. 8.
In opposition, noting contrariety, contradiction, or repugnance; as, a decree against law, reason or public opinion.
In opposition, noting competition, or different sides or parties; as, there are twenty votes in the affirmative against ten in the negative.
In an opposite direction; as, to ride against the wind.
Opposite in place; abreast; as, a ship is against the mouth of a river. In this sense it is often preceded by over.
Aaron lighted the lamps over against the candlesticks.
Num. 8.
In opposition, noting adversity, injury, or contrariety to wishes; as, this change of measures is against us.
Bearing upon; as, one leans against a wall.
In provision for; in preparation for.
Urijah made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
2Kings, 16.
In this sense against is a preposition, with the following part of the sentence for an object. See After, prep. def. 2.
In short, the sense of this word is opposition, variously modified according to its application to different objects.

Definition 2022




Alternative forms



  1. (heading, physical) A close but separated relationship.
    1. In a contrary direction to.
      If you swim against the current, you must work harder.
    2. Close to.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
      The kennel was put against the back wall.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
        We expressed our readiness, and in ten minutes were in the station wagon, rolling rapidly down the long drive, for it was then after nine. [] As we reached the lodge we heard the whistle, and we backed up against one side of the platform as the train pulled up at the other.
    3. In front of; before a background.
      The giant was silhouetted against the door.
    4. In physical contact with.
      The puppy rested its head against a paw.
    5. In physical opposition to, or in collision with.
      The rain pounds against the window.
  2. (heading, social) A contrasting or competitive relationship.
    1. In contrast and/or comparison with.
      He stands out against his local classmates.
    2. In competition with, versus.
      The Tigers will play against the Bears this weekend.
      • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
        “[…] it is not fair of you to bring against mankind double weapons! Dangerous enough you are as woman alone, without bringing to your aid those gifts of mind suited to problems which men have been accustomed to arrogate to themselves.”
      • 2011 September 24, Aled Williams, Chelsea 4-1 Swansea”, in BBC Sport:
        The breakthrough came through Torres who, pilloried for his miss against Manchester United a week earlier, scored his second goal of the season.
    3. In opposition to.
      Are you against freedom of choice? I'd bet against his succeeding.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
        Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
      • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
        Plant breeding is always a numbers game. [] The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation, []. In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better. These rarities may be new mutations, or they can be existing ones that are neutral—or are even selected against—in a wild population. A good example is mutations that disrupt seed dispersal, leaving the seeds on the heads long after they are ripe.
  3. In exchange for.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  4. As counterbalance to.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  5. As a charge on.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  6. As protection from.
    He turned the umbrella against the wind.
    • 1988 March 1, Caroni, Pico; Schwab, Martin E., “Antibody against myelin associated inhibitor of neurite growth neutralizes nonpermissive substrate properties of CNS white matter”, in Neuron, DOI:10.1016/0896-6273(88)90212-7, page 85:
      Monoclonal antibodies were raised against these proteins: IN-1 and IN-2 bound both to the 35 kd and 250 kd inhibitors and to the surface of differentiated cultured oligodendrocytes.
  7. (obsolete) Exposed to.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  8. In anticipation of; in preparation for (a particular time, event etc.).
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821, II.11:
      He wrote to a friend of his, that he lived but with browne bread and water, and entreated him to send him a piece of cheese, against [transl. pour] the time he was to make a solemne feast.
    • 2003, Rodger J. Bille, A Few of the Chosen: Survivors of Terrorism, Trafford Publishing (ISBN 9781412010085), page 8
      Rod, who always distrusted such methods, was forced to accept the new way but had begun to stash away large amounts of cash against the day that the system might be sabotaged or failed entirely.


  • (in competition with): versus





  1. (obsolete) By the time that (something happened); before.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.ix:
      Thence she them brought into a stately Hall, / Wherein were many tables faire dispred, / And ready dight with drapets festiuall, / Against the viaundes should be ministred.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society 1973, p. 6:
      He now gave Mrs Deborah positive orders to take the child to her own bed, and to call up a maid-servant to provide it pap, and other things, against it waked.



against (not comparable)

  1. In opposition to something.
    Are you for the new ring road? No, I'm against.
  2. (gambling) Having a specified likelihood of not winning or happening.
    The second favourite won the race at odds of two to one against.


Most common English words before 1923: again · also · away · #147: against · though · get · eyes