I was looking at the origin of the English word "competition" and it seems to come from the Latin competitio.

Yet, this word comes from the Latin competere, which is the present infinitive of competo, that itself means

I meet; I coincide; I agree

I fail to see how competo, which could well be translated as "I cooperate", lead to another word which means "I compete". In many senses, there are almost antonymous!


The particular meaning of competo needed here is 'seek simultaneously' — as the competitors in a foot-race try at the same time to reach the winning tape. In the alternative sense that is making you confused, the verb's subjects have a common goal which both wish to see attained.

The word competitor has in Latin exactly the same, restricted meaning as the English and has nothing to do with co-operation.

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  • Thanks. Where can I find about such meaning of competo? Or what is the same, do you have some references that support that statement? – luchonacho Aug 18 '17 at 14:43
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    @luchonacho. A proper dictionary is a good place to begin, e.g. perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… – fdb Aug 18 '17 at 18:54
  • Most Latin dictionaries are based on Freund's Latin-German Wörterbuch, and have much the same attestations (but not to say an exact correspondence). Any will provide exemplary usages, and the better ones are on line. I prefer Smith's, but Lewis and Short's is popular. Smith gives two sources for competitor, to correspond with the English meaning 'rival', 'competitor': Cic. Off 1.12.38 si est inimicus, aliter si competitor (cum altero certamen honoris et dignitatis est, cum altero capitis et famae) and Liv. 6.41 qui certos sibi uni honores inter dimicantes competitores aequum censeat. – Tom Cotton Aug 18 '17 at 19:51

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