This article is about competition awards. For other uses, see Trophy (disambiguation).
Some loving-cup trophies seen in the London Irish clubhouse at Sunbury in 2002. The one in the centre is the Powergen Cup.
The Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player during the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup playoffs, on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A trophy is a tangible, durable reminder of a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit. Trophies are often awarded for sporting events, from youth sports to professional level athletics. In many sports medals (or, in North America, rings) are often given out either as the trophy or along with more traditional trophies.

Originally the word trophy, derived from the Greek tropaion, referred to arms, standards, other property, or human captives and body parts (e.g., headhunting) captured in battle. These war trophies commemorated the military victories of a state, army or individual combatant. In modern warfare trophy taking is discouraged,[1] but this sense of the word is reflected in hunting trophies and human trophy collecting by serial killers.

3D printed trophy - Essenscia award 2014
Unique 3D printed trophy for Essenscia, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences industries.

A slang term for an individual or team's collection of trophies is silverware.


For more details on this topic, see Tropaion.

Trophies have marked victories since ancient times. The word trophy coined in English in 1550, was derived from the French trophée in 1513, "a prize of war", from Old French trophee, from Latin trophaeum, monument to victory, variant of tropaeum, which in turn is the latinisation of the Greek τρόπαιον (tropaion),[2] the neuter of τροπαῖος (tropaios), "of defeat" or "for defeat", but generally "of a turning" or "of a change",[3] from τροπή (tropē), "a turn, a change"[4] and that from the verb τρέπω (trepo), "to turn, to alter".[5][6]

In ancient Greece, trophies were made on the battlefields of victorious battles, from captured arms and standards, and were hung upon a tree or a large stake made to resemble a warrior. Often, these ancient trophies were inscribed with a story of the battle and were dedicated to various gods. Trophies made about naval victories sometimes consisted of entire ships (or what remained of them) laid out on the beach. To destroy a trophy was considered a sacrilege.[7]

The ancient Romans kept their trophies closer to home. The Romans built magnificent trophies in Rome, including columns and arches atop a foundation. Most of the stone trophies that once adorned huge stone memorials in Rome have been long since stolen.[8]


In ancient Greece, the winners of the Olympic games initially received no trophies except laurel wreaths. Later the winner also received an amphora with sacred olive oil. In local games, the winners received different trophies, such as a tripod vase, a bronze shield or a silver cup.

In ancient Rome, money usually was given to winners instead of trophies.

Chalices were given to winners of sporting events at least as early as the very late 1600s in the New World. For example, the Kyp Cup (made by silversmith Jesse Kyp), a small, two-handled, sterling cup in the Henry Ford Museum, was given to the winner of a horse race between two towns in New England in about 1699. Chalices, particularly, are associated with sporting events, and were traditionally made in silver. Winners of horse races, and later boating and early automobile races, were the typical recipients of these trophies. The Davis Cup, Stanley Cup, America's Cup and numerous World Cups are all now famous cup-shaped trophies given to sports winners.[8]

Today, the most common trophies are much less expensive, and thus much more pervasive, thanks to mass-produced plastic/resin trophies.


A trophy held by women's weightlifter Karyn Marshall made of wood and metal.

Contemporary trophies often depict an aspect of the event commemorated, for example in basketball tournaments, the trophy takes the shape of a basketball player, or a basketball. Trophies have been in the past objects of use such as two-handled cups, bowls, or mugs (all usually engraved); or representations such as statues of people, animals, and architecture while displaying words, numbers or images. While trophies traditionally have been made with metal figures, wood columns, and wood bases, in recent years they have been made with plastic figures and marble bases. This is to retain the weight traditionally associated with a quality award and make them more affordable to use as recognition items. Trophies increasingly have used resin depictions.

The Academy Awards Oscar is a trophy with a stylized human; the Hugo Award for science fiction is a space ship; and the Wimbledon awards for its singles champions are a large loving cup for men and a large silver plate for women.

A loving-cup trophy is a common variety of trophy; it is a cup shape, usually on a pedestal, with two or more handles, and is often made from silver or silver plate.[9]

Hunting trophies are reminders of successes from hunting animals, such as an animal's head mounted to be hung on a wall.

Resin trophies come in a variety of sports or generic forms. These resin awards are often used for participation awards and can be custom made to include an event logo. These can be custom molded to create a unique trophy for businesses, youth sports organizations, and non profits alike.

Perpetual trophies are held by the winner until the next event, when the winner must compete again in order to keep the trophy. In some competitions winners in a certain number of consecutive or non-consecutive events receive the trophy or its copy in permanent ownership.


Some sporting trophies include:


The FA Cup.

Some of the world's most famous football trophies are:

The original Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in Brazil in 1983 and has never been recovered. Replicas were awarded to winning nations up to the retirement of the genuine trophy. However, prior to the 1966 final, The Football Association made an (unauthorised) replica in secret in gilded bronze for use in post-match celebrations due to security concerns – the genuine trophy was made out of close to 2 kg of pure gold. This has led to several conspiracy theories regarding which trophy was stolen – the FA replica, or the real trophy. FIFA purchased the replica for £254,500 (ten times the reserve price) in 1997, with the inflated price attributed to such rumours.[10] This trophy is held on behalf of FIFA by the National Football Museum in Preston. The current FIFA World Cup trophy inscribe the names of the teams that won the award at the underneath the base of the trophy.

A club that manages to win the Copa Libertadores trophy three consecutive times retain the trophy permanently. The current trophy has been used since 1975. Like the FIFA World Cup trophy, the winners of each edition of the tournament has their name inscribed on the trophy; unlike the FIFA World Cup trophy, a pedestal contains a list of winners in the form of badges. The current pedestal is the fourth in the trophy's history, having been used since 2009. The original trophy was awarded to Estudiantes de La Plata in 1970 (after their third win) - the present trophy is the third, identical edition.[11]

Clubs that win the European Champion Clubs' Cup three times in successive seasons, or five times in total, are permitted to retain the trophy in perpetuity. The present trophy has been used since 2005/06 after Liverpool F.C.'s fifth win in 2005. The original trophy was awarded to Real Madrid CF in 1966 (after their sixth win) – the present trophy is the sixth (identical) edition.

Four trophies have served as an award (out of five made) for the winner of the FA Cup. The first (1871–1895) was stolen in Birmingham and melted down, the second (1896–1910) was presented to Lord Kinnaird and is held by David Gold, the chairman of Birmingham City after private auction in 2005. The third (1910–1992) was retired after the 1992 final due to fragility and is held by The Football Association; two exact replicas of it were made, one of which has been awarded to the winners 1993–present, the other remains as a backup in case of damage to the primary trophy.

Gaelic Football




Rugby league

Rugby union



Australian rules football




American and Canadian sports

The Stanley Cup is awarded to the champions of the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Finals
The Commissioner's Trophy is awarded to the champions of the Major League Baseball's World Series

Many combat sports, such as boxing, mixed martial arts, and professional wrestling use championship belts as trophies; however, unlike most of the trophies mentioned above, a new one is not created every time a new champion is crowned; rather, the new champion takes the belt from the old one.


The United States military also issues a type of trophy which are known as "non-portable decorations". This indicates that the trophy carries the status of a military award, but is not meant to be worn on a uniform but rather is presented for static display. Such military trophies include athletic excellence awards, unit excellence awards, and superior service awards presented annually to the top service member of a command.

Professional awards

Many professional associations award trophies in recognition of outstanding work in their respective fields. Some examples of such awards include:


Main article: Trophy hunting

In hunting, although competition trophies like those mentioned above can be awarded, the word trophy more typically refers to an item made from the body of a killed animal and kept as a keepsake. See taxidermy.

See also


  1. "War Trophies". US Military. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  2. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τρόπαιον". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  3. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τροπαῖος". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  4. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τροπή". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  5. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τρέπω". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  6. "trophy". Online Etymological Dictionary.
  7. "trophy". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  8. 1 2 "Trophy". How Products are made, volume 6.
  9. Noto, Suzanne. "Loving Cup History". Silver Gallery.
  10. Kuper, Simon (2006-04-14). "Solid gold mystery awaits the final whistle". Financial Times.
  11. Lozano, Fernando (2010-05-03). "¿Sabías que el trofeo de la Copa Libertadores se hizo en el Perú?".
  12. Palermo, Elizabeth. "Golden Globe Creator Eyes the Prize All Year Long". Business News Daily. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  13. King, Ted. "Famous awards made at Grove, Oklahoma". Pryor Daily Times. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  14. Knight, Meribah. "Why the manufacturer of the Oscars doesn't like how the story ends". Chicago Business. Retrieved 18 June 2014.

Further reading

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