• To take part in a race (in the sense of a contest).
  • To compete against in such a race.
  • To move or drive at high speed; to hurry or speed.
  • Of a motor, to run rapidly when not engaged to a transmission.
  • To assign a race to; to perceive as having a (usually specified) race.


Similar words

Narrower meaning words


  • From Middle English race, from Old Norse rás, from Proto-Germanic *rēsō, from Proto-Indo-European *reh₁s-. Akin to Old English rǣs, Middle Low German râs, Dutch ras. Compare Danish ræs, Norwegian and Swedish ras, Norwegian rås.
  • 1560s, via Middle French race from Italian razza (early 14th century), of uncertain origin.
  • Diez and some other scholars suggest derivation from Proto-Germanic *raitō (whence Old High German reiza and Old Norse ríta), perhaps via Langobardic *raiza, which Körting notes is a literal rendering of Latin linea sanguinis. Anatoly Liberman says "the semantic fit is good" but the chronology falters; he says the Germanic word went out of use before the Italian word arose, and he says the intermediary is not attested.
  • Some scholars suggest derivation from Old Spanish raza, rasa, from earlier ras, res, from Arabic رَأْس, but Italian razza predates the Spanish word according to Diez and Meyer-Lübke.
  • Meyer-Lübke suggested Latin generatio as the root; Körting says "the disappearance of two initial syllables hardly seems credible", but Meyer-Lübke notes the Venetian form narazza and the Old Bellunesian form naraccia, positing that after the first syllable ge- was lost, the remaining (una) narazza came to be reanalysed as una razza.
  • Gianfranco Contini suggests the Italian word comes from Old French haraz, whence Modern French haras, from Old Norse hárr. Liberman considers this derivation the most likely.
  • Other suggested Latin etyma:
  • ** radius (perhaps via Vulgar Latin *radia) (per Baist).
  • ** radix (per Ulrich); Liberman says "the semantic match is excellent", and race (which definitely derives from radix) shows that the phonology is plausible.
  • ** *raptiare (per Körting).
  • ** The nominative of ratio (perhaps via an unattested intermediate form *razzo), as opposed to ragione which derives from the accusative rationem.
  • Other implausible suggestions include Slavic raz and Basque arraca, supposedly meaning "stud animal" (Basque arrazza, "race", derives from Spanish).
  • From Middle French, from Latin radix.

Modern English dictionary

Explore and search massive catalog of over 900,000 word meanings.

Word of the Day

Get a curated memorable word every day.

Challenge yourself

Level up your vocabulary by setting personal goals.

And much more

Try out Vedaist now.