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What is the difference between "conquered" and "won"?

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Please be sure to include in your question the research you have done in a dictionary beforehand. –  Matt Эллен Aug 22 '12 at 8:57

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Conquer has the sense of either taking by force (seize), to put down by force (subdue), or to overcome something difficult (ie. conquer your fears).

Win is to become first in a contest or competition, acquire through effort or skill, obtain an advantage, or attain a goal.

So, there is some overlap in meaning, but difference in emphasis. Consider:

At the start of World War II, Germany won France.

You could say this, if you mean to emphasize the fact that they acquired control of France through superior tactics or strategy. But most people would say:

At the start of World War II, Germany conquered France.

Since most people would emphasize that they seized (most of) France through aggressive and unprovoked military action.

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From now on I'm going to incorporate "At the start of World War II, Germany won France." into every discussion. It sounds... just right. :) –  Gleno Jan 18 '11 at 0:51
    
I'm not sure it's about force necessarily. Conquer tends to carry more clout but it carries with it the image of someone being defeated or brought to submission, with or without force. When someone wins, there is more independence between opponents. When used as a transitive verb, win refers to spoils or awards rather than something you acquired yourself. For example After conquering his rivals, the athlete won the gold medal –  Rant Nov 26 '11 at 21:14

Winning is being successful, which might lead to securing a thing (a trophy), a person or a territory. Conquering, on the other hand, is all about taking control of a place or people (to quote NOAD). So, “win” is much broader than “conquer”.

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'Conquered' also has more of an air of permanence about it. –  Brian Hooper Jan 17 '11 at 17:43
    
When deciding between win and conquer it's important to consider how much the challengers are interacting with each other. For example, its a little awkward to hear someone talking about how they conquered a raffle –  Rant Nov 26 '11 at 21:23

I know this is a bit old, but it seemed worth pointing out that in gaming circles, there's a distinction between receiving a positive game-over screen ("beating" the game, or "winning") and completing 100% of the game (including optional sidequests and collectables); some gamers speak of "conquering" the game when they reach 100% completion, as opposed to merely "winning" the game.

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But then you get into the other various synonyms of winning and beyond...for example, I think of myself as finishing or completing a Zelda game as opposed to winning it. –  Rant Nov 26 '11 at 21:25

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