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Can anyone give me a single word describing a person that is equal to somebody in status but an opponent to them at the same time?

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Tough call. I think both @kriegar and @Purplegoldfish had good responses. I feel like maybe rival implies opposition whereas counterpart only implies complete equality. I.e., a counterpart might be completely amicable or on your side. – LucasTizma Mar 29 '11 at 10:00

10 Answers 10

up vote 13 down vote accepted

"Rival" seems like a fitting choice.

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thanks for that. – nicholas ainsworth Mar 29 '11 at 13:55

I agree rival is good - better than counterpart, which doesn't necessarily imply opposition.

I think adversary also fits the bill, and perhaps carries more overtones of actual equality. A rival may simply be an opponent who's strong enough to compete at all, but if you have an adversary you know you're in for a tough fight where the outcome isn't at all certain.

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+1, but looking at the definitions of both words, I think adversary actually carries less intonation of equality. – kriegar Mar 30 '11 at 2:37
In which case you'd be happy if I said you were my adversary in this arena :-) – FumbleFingers Mar 31 '11 at 23:39
Adding some meat to the bones, Google shows 131,000 hits for "more powerful adversary", as against 108,000 for "more powerful rival", so it obviously has stronger associations with power. Particularly considering the bare word rival outhits adversary by an order of magnitude. – FumbleFingers Mar 31 '11 at 23:46
I don't think using Google hits helps your argument. On the contrary, I think the fact that there are more hits with the modifier weakens your position. If anything it shows that rival means an equal or greater opponent, where as adversary needs a modifier to implicate scale of the opponent. That being said, Google hits for a phrase is probably a poor indication of anything. Looking at the definitions again, rival seems to be the better choice. – kriegar Mar 31 '11 at 23:52

Moriarty was Sherlock Holmes' arch-enemy.

Superman's nemesis was Lex Luthor.

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+1 for nemesis. Fits perfectly the equality clause. – Alain Pannetier Φ May 27 '11 at 0:22

"Your opposite number" is sometimes used.

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that sounds rather poetic .) – Eimantas Mar 29 '11 at 13:58
It doesn't to me, but it also doesn't necessarily connote opposition. Its primary meaning to me is "the person in another organisation whose position or function most closely corresponds to yours, and who therefore you might well be dealing with, or deal with in the future. – Colin Fine Mar 29 '11 at 14:55

Archrival is a particularly apt description for this sort of person. Competitor comes a close second in my book.

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In the Neil Gaiman series Sandman, the term Corinthian is used, referring to an Roman poem wherein the Corinthians were shown to be the Dark Mirrors of the protagonists.

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Counterpart might be one, depends on the usage though.

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I think "opponent" is close to what you might be looking for.

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"Bizarro" can also be used, though it assumes a certain amount of comic-savvy.

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Sorry, but Bizarro has a whole other set of connotations that make it a bad answer to this question. – user1579 Mar 29 '11 at 14:10

Contrarian a person who takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority

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