from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • prep. In a direction or course opposite to: row against the current.
  • prep. So as to come into forcible contact with: waves dashing against the shore.
  • prep. In contact with so as to rest or press on: leaned against the tree.
  • prep. In hostile opposition or resistance to: struggle against fate.
  • prep. Contrary to; opposed to: against my better judgment.
  • prep. In competition with: race against the record holder.
  • prep. In contrast or comparison with the setting or background of: dark colors against a fair skin.
  • prep. In preparation for; in anticipation of: food stored against winter.
  • prep. As a defense or safeguard from: protection against the cold.
  • prep. To the account or debt of: drew a check against my bank balance.
  • prep. Directly opposite to; facing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • prep. In a contrary direction to.
  • prep. Close to.
  • prep. In front of; before a background.
  • prep. In physical contact with.
  • prep. In physical opposition to, or in collision with.
  • prep. In contrast and/or comparison with.
  • prep. In competition with, versus.
  • prep. In opposition to.
  • prep. In exchange for.
  • prep. As counterbalance to.
  • prep. As a charge on.
  • prep. As protection from.
  • prep. Exposed to.
  • prep. In anticipation of; in preparation for (a particular time, event etc.).
  • conj. By the time that (something happened); before.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prep. Abreast; opposite to; facing; towards; ; -- in this sense often preceded by over.
  • prep. From an opposite direction so as to strike or come in contact with; in contact with; upon.
  • prep. In opposition to, whether the opposition is of sentiment or of action; on the other side; counter to; in contrariety to; hence, adverse to
  • prep. By of before the time that; in preparation for; so as to be ready for the time when.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of motion or direction: In an opposite direction to, so as to meet; toward;
  • upon: as, to strike against a rock; the rain beats against the window: to ride against the wind.
  • Of position: In an opposite position; directly opposite; in front of: in this sense often preceded by over: as, a ship is against the mouth of a river.
  • In contact with; bearing upon: as, to lean against a wall; in optical contact with (something behind); athwart: as, the ship loomed up dark and grim against the sky.
  • Of action or purpose: In opposition to; in contrariety to; adverse or hostile to: as, twenty votes against ten; against law, reason, or public opinion.
  • In resistance to or defense from: as, protection against burglars, cold, fire, etc.; to warn one against danger; the public are cautioned against pickpockets.
  • In provision for; in preparation for; in anticipation of; with reference to.
  • In exchange for; in return for; as a balance to: as, an exporter draws against merchandise shipped.
  • For the purpose of consuming time: as, he talked against time, that is, merely to gain time, a method sometimes adopted by members of legislative and deliberative assemblies who desire to defeat some measure or motion by lapse of time, or to gain time for supporters to assemble.
  • (by ellipsis). Against the time that; by the time that; before: as, be ready against I get back.


Middle English, alteration of againes, from Old English ongeagn.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Formed from Middle English agenes, againes ("in opposition to"), a southern variant of agen, or directly from again, either way with adverbial genitive singular ending -es; the parasitic -t was added circa 1350, probably by confusion with the superlative ending -est. (Wiktionary)


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