- 1: the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist
- 2: achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties
Victory (from Latin victoria) is a term, originally in applied to warfare, given to success achieved in personal combat, after military operations in general or, by extension, in any competition. Success in a military campaign is considered a strategic victory, while the success in a military engagement is a tactical victory.
In terms of human emotion, victory is accompanied with strong feelings of elation, and in human behaviour is often accompanied with movements and poses paralleling threat display preceding the combat, associated with the excess endorphin built up preceding and during combat. Victory dances and victory cries similarly parallel war dances and war cries performed before the outbreak of physical violence. Examples of victory behaviour reported in Roman antiquity, where the term originates, are the victory songs of the Batavi mercenaries serving under Gaius Julius Civilis after the victory over Quintus Petillius Cerialis in the Batavian rebellion of 69 (according to Tacitus), and also the "abominable song" to Wodan, sung by the Langobards at their victory celebration in 579. The sacrificial animal was a goat, around whose head the Langobard danced in a circle while singing their victory hymn (see also Oslac). In the Roman Republic, victories were celebrated by triumph ceremonies and monuments such as victory columns (e.g. Trajan's Column). A trophy is a token of victory taken from the defeated party, such as the enemy's weapons (spolia), or body parts (as in the case of head hunters).
In mythology, victory is often deified, as in Greek Nike or Roman Victoria. Archetypical victories of good over evil, or of light over dark etc. are a recurring theme in mythology and fairy tales. The victorious agent is a hero, often portrayed as engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a monster (as Saint George slaying the dragon, Indra slaying Ahi, Thor slaying the Midgard Serpent etc.). Sol invictus ("Sun invincible") of Roman mythology became an epithet of Christ in Christian mythology. The resurrection of Christ is presented as a victory over Death and Sin by Paul of Tarsus (1 Corinthians 15:55; see also Jesus Christ in comparative mythology).
Latinate victory from the 14th century replaces Old English sige (Gothic sigis, Old High German sigu), a frequent element in Germanic names (as in Sigibert, Sigurd etc.), cognate to Celtic sego- and Sanskrit sahas.