How to say "compete" in German

Depending on what one wants to say, there are different ways to express the concept of competing in German:

– “konkurrieren”: This word comes from the Latin “concurrere”, meaning “running together”, and is the primary word used in German to indicate that two or more parties are fighting (or applying) for the same thing at the same time.

– “mithalten”: This word essentially translates as “to keep up”, and thus “We can’t compete with them.” turns into “Wir können nicht mit ihnen mithalten.”

One of the words for “competition” is “Wettbewerb” (m.) and can be used to express any type of “contest” or “business rivalry”. From this we also get “Wettbewerbsfähigkeit” (f.) (“ability to compete”) and “Wettbewerber” (m.) (“competitor”). Another is “Konkurrenz” (f.), from which we get “konkurrenzfähig” (“able to compete”/”competitive”) and “Konkurrent” (m.) (“competitor”).

A softer word for “competitor” is “Mitbewerber” (in business), a more aggressive one is “Rivale” (m.) (“rival”) and, of course, “Gegner” (m.) (“opponent”).

In sports, the word is “Wettkämpfer” (“contestant” or “athlete”).

Note: There is no good way of describing a person as “competitive” in German. Words that come close are “wetteifernd”, “ehrgeizig” (“ambitious”) and perhaps “streitsüchtig” (“quarrelsome”).

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