Definitions

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.

Etymologies

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)

Examples

  • Simultaneously 'With us' and 'against us' yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'Simultaneously \'With us\' and \'against us\ ''; yahooBuzzArticleSummary = 'Article: The US is helping the Sunnis, both inside and outside of Iraq to target al Qaeda in Iraq, but these are also anti-government forces opposed to the very government that America created.

    Simultaneously 'With us' and 'against us'

  • They were using them against the Government; and it was thought, by some, that they might as well work for as _against_ the

    Incidents of the War: Humorous, Pathetic, and Descriptive

  • -- The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government; and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the legislature, or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened) _against domestic violence_.

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus

  • The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government; and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the legislature, or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened) _against domestic violence_.

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus

  • Smith who was against the League and Jones who was against Article X, and Brown who was against Mr. Wilson and all his works, each for his own reason, all in the name of more or less the same symbolic phrase, register a vote _against_ the Democrats by voting for the

    Public Opinion

  • Their return to a rigid theory of versification was a reaction against the loose methods of various disciples of Lamartine and Hugo; a deliberate conspiracy (to quote M. Sully Prudhomme, one of their most distinguished poets) ‘against the excessively facile line, the line which is feeble and flabby, fluid as water, and as formless’.

    Introduction

  • "To go against one's _own_ -- _against one's own_," he repeated, "and Con so sick now --"

    The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story

  • Could anything in all the world matter beside the fact that this girl believed in him, that she had trusted him not only against convention, not only against his cowardly enemy, but last and biggest, _against himself?

    Captivating Mary Carstairs

  • We have had the entire pathos of mankind against us -- their concept of that which truth _ought_ to be, which the service of truth _ought_ to be: every "thou shalt" has been hitherto directed _against_ us.

    Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 4, June 1906 Monthly Magazine Devoted to Social Science and Literature

  • -- Parasitism as the _only_ practice of the church; with its anæmic and "holy" ideals, sucking all the blood, all the love, all the hope out of life; the beyond as the will to deny all reality; the cross as the distinguishing mark of the most subterranean conspiracy ever heard of, -- against health, beauty, well-being, intellect, _kindness_ of soul -- _against life itself_ ....

    The Antichrist

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