Sense: 1, 3-6
Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old Norse
Origin: ras 'going quickly, running'
Sense: 2
Date: 1500-1600
Language: French
Origin: Old Italian razza


1 noun
race1 S2 W2


[countable]DSO a competition in which people or animals compete to run, drive etc fastest and finish first
in a race
He will be the youngest runner in the race.
She finished second in the race.
race between
the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities
Over 80 cars will take part in the race.
She has won her last four races.
There are only three days to go until the big race (=important race).


a) [uncountable and countable] one of the main groups that humans can be divided into according to the colour of their skin and other physical features [↪ ethnic group]:
The school welcomes children of all races.
a person of mixed race
The law forbids discrimination on the grounds of race or religion.
human race
b) [singular] informal a group of people who are similar in some way
race of
The 1960s produced a new race of young novelists.
Are schools breeding (=producing) a race of children incapable of making decisions for themselves?

get/do something first

[singular] a situation in which one group of people tries to obtain or achieve something before another group does
the race to do something
More and more drug companies are joining the race to beat cancer.
The race is on to develop more environmentally friendly forms of energy.
arms race, rat race

do something quickly

[singular] a situation in which you have to do something very quickly because you have very little time available
a race to do something
It is now a race to find the killer.
race against time/against the clock
The pilot then began a desperate race against time to land the plane before it ran out of fuel.


[singular] a situation in which people are competing with each other to win a prize or obtain a position of power
race for
Mr Bird has now officially joined the race for the White House.
He is no longer in the race for academic awards.
race to do something
the race to host the next Olympic Games

horse race

the races

DSH an occasion when horse races are held
at the races
We spent a day at the races.

➔ play the race card

at play1 (14)