Meaning of “race” in the English Dictionary

"race" in British English

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uk /reɪs/ us /reɪs/

race noun (COMPETITION)

A2 [ C ] a competition in which all the competitors try to be the fastest and to finish first:

Do you know who won/lost the race?
Let's have a swimming race.
They're taking part in a race to the top of Mont Blanc.

C1 [ C ] an attempt to be the first to do or to get something:

Kieran and Andrew are in a race for promotion.
[ + to infinitive ] Three newspapers are involved in a race to publish the story.
Another candidate has now entered the presidential race (= the attempt to be elected as president).
Finishing this project by December is going to be a race against time/the clock (= an attempt to finish fast within a time limit).
races [ plural ]

a series of horse races in a particular place on one day:

He often has a day at the races.

More examples

  • I was just congratulating Ceri on winning her race.
  • If an athlete makes a false start, the race must be restarted.
  • Several jockeys were arrested on suspicion of fixing the race.
  • It was a real race against time to get all the costumes sewn for the play.
  • He found three 400 metre races in two days hard going.

race noun (PEOPLE)

C1 [ C or U ] a group, especially of people, with particular similar physical characteristics, who are considered as belonging to the same type, or the fact of belonging to such a group:

People of many different races were living side by side.
Discrimination on grounds of race will not be tolerated.
An increasing number of people in the country are of mixed race (= with parents of different races).

[ C, + sing/pl verb ] a group of people who share the same language, history, characteristics, etc.:

The British are an island race.

More examples

  • She teaches the students to have respect for different races and appreciate the diversity of other cultures.
  • Primitive races colonized these islands 2000 years ago.
  • People should not be stigmatized on the basis of race.
  • Today, many Americans are still grappling with the issue of race.
  • Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age or disability is not allowed.


uk /reɪs/ us /reɪs/

race verb (COMPETITION)

B1 [ I or T ] to (cause to) compete in a race:

He has been racing for over ten years.
I used to race (against) him when we were boys.
He's racing three of his dogs on Saturday.

More examples

  • Last time she raced against the Brazilian, she won by a whisker.
  • He collects vintage cars, which he races occasionally.
  • They raced against each other to settle the bet.
  • He was racing against several more experienced runners.
  • For religious reasons, she will not race on Sundays.

(Definition of “race” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"race" in American English

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us /reɪs/

race noun (COMPETITION)

[ C ] a competition between people or animals to see who can get from the starting place to the finish before all the others:

a horse race
She won the 100-meter race in 11.06 seconds.

[ C ] fig. A race is also an urgent effort:

[ + to infinitive ] It was a race against time to get the project finished by Friday’s deadline.

politics & government [ C ] A race is also a competition to be elected to a political position:

The governor of California plans to enter the presidential race.

race noun (PEOPLE)

[ C/U ] any group into which humans can be divided according to their shared physical or genetic characteristics:

[ U ] Discrimination because of race is against the law.

raceverb [ I/T ]

us /reɪs/

race verb [ I/T ] (COMPETE)

to compete in a race or run a race with someone:

[ I/T ] He’s been racing (cars) for over ten years.

fig. To race is also to move fast or to happen quickly:

(Definition of “race” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)