In baseball when two people are running toward the same pop fly, one will often yell "I got it!" or "mine"!

But in life there are all kinds of situations where two people are going for the same parking spot, or chasing after the same love interest, etc.

Is there a general term in English that describes these collisions? Is there a more formal term for when one person calls "shotgun" for these collisions (i.e. calls dibs, or claims ownership)?

  • 1
    Just competition.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 1:51
  • I would argue that competition is a superset of the scenario I'm describing. If two players (on the same team) are going after a ball then one calls "mine" or "ball" or "I got it" to HELP the other person. It's not quite the same. edit: I can see where my two real world examples weren't thought out well. Let's think in terms of a business support team. If a customer puts in a ticket for support, and the issue is blasted to a distribution list, then one of the employees can call "dibs" so that no other employees waste their time. It's helpful for both the company and the customer.
    – Meshach
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 5:47
  • 3
    "Is there a general term" - Please say whether you want a verb, a noun, or an adjective. It is helpful if you give a sample sentence showing how you would use the word you can leave a blank ____ where the word would fit. Incidentally, if you want a noun, I would suggest "rivalry" c.f. answer by @Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 11:02
  • The (highly) informal exclamation is “Bagsy!” Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 8:56
  • @Chris Melville - is "bagsy" what you say when you are going to catch the ball and you want others to stay out of your way? In any case, I don't think it's used in the US. In baseball, I think what people say is the more prosaic "I('ve) got it." Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 4:39

7 Answers 7


I am going to assume you are looking for a noun that refers to the situation you describe, and another noun for the action of claiming priority in that situation.

I am going to say that there is no such noun in general English. In parallel computing the analogous thing can happen with different processes, and then it is called a race condition. Occasionally that term will be used metaphorically for the kind of "who claims the ticket" scenario you describe in your comment, but most people wouldn't be familiar with the concept. And also it wouldn't feel natural at all to use it with either a love interest or a parking space (two concepts I don't usually lump together).

I think if the contest really just goes to whoever gets there first, you can say that it is a race for X. In the case of a love interest, I imagine getting there first isn't enough, and you could say a competition for X's affections (although that sounds a little old-fashioned).

I think the English term for calling dibs is calling dibs, or just calling something. You can also say that someone "lays a claim", "stakes a claim", or just "claims" something.


I'd say they're vying.

Vie: Compete eagerly with someone in order to do or achieve something.

Example: the athletes were vying for a place in the British team. [Lexico]

Or they're contesting.

Contest: Engage in competition to attain (a position of power)

Example: she declared her intention to contest the presidency. [Lexico]

The competition could also be referred to as cut-throat or dog-eat-dog.

  • I'd say, in both cases, the top sentence is misleading: you cannot "by" without a "for something" and you cannot "contest" with a "something", which those lines seem to suggest.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 10:42

Such people are called rivals. The word is ultimately from Latin rīvālis, "one who uses a stream in common with another" (rivus is stream, whence English river).


Is there a more formal term for when one person calls "shotgun" for these collisions (i.e. calls dibs, or claims ownership)?

In formal language, it's to stake a claim.

[Merriam-Webster, from stake]
stake a claim
: to assert a title or right to something by or as if by placing stakes usually to satisfy a legal requirement

In other words, you are staking the claim that the baseball, parking spot, or love interest belongs to you and nobody else. You are asserting your right to it.

  • 1
    Or simply claiming?
    – gidds
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 18:31

When two or more people eagerly chase after the same thing in a competitive manner, they’re scrambling for it.

Definition: * to struggle eagerly or unceremoniously for possession of something*

Source: Merriam-Webster

  • 1
    To me, "scrambling" gives no indication that there's more than one person. I think "I was scrambling to answer the phone" sounds perfectly normal, but to me it would imply one person rushing, not two people competing.
    – Harun
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 6:24

It looks like you're asking for competitions where people are after the same thing, where they cannot all have it.

To describe a competition where two (or more) people cannot all successfully claim the prize, we could use zero-sum game

a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it

(Merriam Webster)


Is there a general term in English that describes these collisions?


Example: There is much contention for parking spaces.

Is there a more formal term for when one person calls "shotgun" for these collisions (i.e. calls dibs, or claims ownership)?


Example: The blue car won the space.

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