Mark Freeman wrote:
I was once told that the root of the word competitor is similar to that of companion, and that the runner wants his friend to race against him to improve his own performance. I like that explanation, even if the etymology is not correct.
I like that view of things too, and the etymology is correct, afaik.
The "com" part of the word is the same, and means "together"
In "companion", the second part is from "panis" meaning bread - a companion is someone you share bread with.
In "compete" the second part is from "petere" meaning strive or seek (its the root of "petition"). So "compete" literally means strive, or seek together.
Funnily enough, the Japanese 'shiai' carries much the same meaning.
Its all latin, by the way.
There's a good etymological dictionary online here: