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The European Champion Clubs' Cup held here by Johan Cruyff in 1972, is awarded to the winners of the UEFA Champions League

A trophy is a tangible, durable reminder of a specific achievement, serving as recognition or evidence of merit. Trophies are most commonly awarded for sporting events, ranging from youth sports to professional level athletics. Additionally, trophies are presented for achievements in Academic, Arts and Entertainment, Business, Military, Professional awards, Community Service, Hunting, and Environmental accomplishments. In many contexts, especially in 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.


Further information: 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.

The oldest sports trophies in the world are the Carlisle Bells, a horse racing trophy dating back to 1559 and 1599 and were first awarded by Elizabeth I. The race has been run for over 400 years in Carlisle, Cumbria, United Kingdom. The bells are on show at the local museum, Tullie House, which houses a variety of historic artifacts from the area from Roman legions to present day.[9][circular reference]


Trophy for the 1934 Melbourne Cup. The trophy is an example of a loving cup-styled trophy, with three handles attached to the bowl.

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.[10][11]

Hunting trophies are reminders of successes from hunting animals, such as an animal's head mounted to be hung on a wall. There's also people who get their animals Taxidermy, where you can have just the head, or you can have the full animal stuffed; and put out for show.

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 of a certain number of consecutive or non-consecutive events receive the trophy or its copy in permanent ownership. This was particularly common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and led to the discontinuation of many trophy events when the trophy was won permanently and the event organizers could not or would not purchase a new one.


Trophies have been awarded for team, or individual accomplishments in sports. Many combat sports, such as boxing, mixed martial arts, and professional wrestling use championship belts as trophies; however, unlike most of the trophies mentioned below, a new one is not created every time a new champion is crowned; rather, the new champion takes the belt from the old one.

Association football

Trophies in the sport include:

Norberto Alonso with the Copa Libertadores Trophy. The trophy awarded to the champions of Copa Libertadores
Several awards for a Scrabble tournament in Benin

Other notable trophies in the sport includes the Jules Rimet Trophy. The original 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.[12] 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 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.[13]

Until 2009, clubs that win the European Champion Clubs' Cup three times in successive seasons, or five times in total, were permitted to retain the trophy in perpetuity. The present trophy has been used since 2005–06 after Liverpool's fifth win in 2005. The original trophy was awarded to Real Madrid in 1966 (after their sixth win) — the present trophy is the sixth incarnation overall.

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 (1993–2013), the other remains as a backup in case of damage to the primary trophy. The same design was recast and was unveiled in 2014 to be more durable.

Australian rules football

The AFL Premiership Cup is awarded to the winners of the AFL's Grand Final




Gaelic football

Gridiron football

American football

Canadian football


Horse racing

The Arlington Million Trophy being carried. The trophy is awarded to the winners of the Arlington Million horse race


Ice hockey

The Stanley Cup is a perpetual trophy awarded to the winners of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.




Rugby football

Rugby league

The Paul Barrière Trophy is awarded to the winners of the Rugby League World Cup
The Provan-Summons Trophy

Rugby union



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

Several actors and actresses with "Oscar statuette" in hand. The award is issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  2. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τρόπαιον". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  3. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τροπαῖος". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  4. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τροπή". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  5. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "τρέπω". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  6. ^ "trophy". Online Etymological Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31.
  7. ^ "trophy". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2010-08-02.
  8. ^ a b "Trophy". How Products are made, volume 6. Archived from the original on 2009-08-28.
  9. ^ Carlisle Bell
  10. ^ Noto, Suzanne. "Loving Cup History". Silver Gallery.
  11. ^ Wicliffe, E. Gordon (June 1926). "The Tradition of the Trophy Cup". Golf Illustrated. Retrieved March 28, 2023.
  12. ^ Kuper, Simon (2006-04-14). "Solid gold mystery awaits the final whistle". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2009-03-06.
  13. ^ Lozano, Fernando (2010-05-03). "¿Sabías que el trofeo de la Copa Libertadores se hizo en el Perú?". Archived from the original on 2011-01-11.
  14. ^ Palermo, Elizabeth. "Golden Globe Creator Eyes the Prize All Year Long". Business News Daily. Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  15. ^ King, Ted. "Famous awards made at Grove, Oklahoma". Pryor Daily Times. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  16. ^ Knight, Meribah. "Why the manufacturer of the Oscars doesn't like how the story ends". Chicago Business. Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2014.

Further reading