Definition of enemy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɛnəmi/

noun (plural enemies)

1A person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something: the traditional enemies of his tribe Nigel made many enemies this man was her sworn enemy
More example sentences
  • She was still my sworn enemy who was trying to tear me down in whatever way possible.
  • Somehow they blamed each other, deciding their sworn enemy was the sole reason for their anger.
  • Albert did his best to smile at a man who was supposed to be his enemy despite being critically ill himself.
foe, adversary, opponent, rival, nemesis, antagonist, combatant, challenger, competitor, opposer, hostile party;
(the enemy) the opposition, the competition, the other side, the opposing side
rare corrival, vier
1.1 (the enemy) [treated as singular or plural] A hostile nation or its armed forces, especially in time of war: the enemy shot down four helicopters [as modifier]: enemy aircraft
More example sentences
  • The bulk of the infantry was kept back out of range of the enemy guns, ready to counter-attack.
  • Democracies are entitled to try officers and soldiers of enemy forces for war crimes.
  • Not a shot had been fired and not a single Allied aircraft had attacked the enemy aircraft.
1.2A thing that harms or weakens something else: routine is the enemy of art
More example sentences
  • Part of my psyche is tuned to the belief that routine is the enemy of invention.
  • After all, as he explains at length in his book, these three things have a common enemy in risk aversion.
  • In a rather bold twist, the traditional enemy of poetry is turned into a poet himself!



be one's own worst enemy

Act in a way contrary to one’s own interests: I try my best, but he’s his own worst enemy
More example sentences
  • Hitler went from being a superb strategist in the early part of his rule to being his own worst enemy later on.
  • Not for the first time in my life, I had been my own worst enemy, but if people don't treat me correctly, I have to hit back at them.
  • But you can be your own worst enemy when there's a lot of negative chatter going on inside your head.

make an enemy of

Cause (someone) to start feeling hostile to one: you really don’t want to make an enemy of your girlfriend’s best mate
More example sentences
  • The marchers' defiant smugness started to make an enemy of me.
  • The glamorous cabinet minister sacked by the president made an enemy of of the president's wife with early morning calls.
  • By placing it in the enemy camp, the President made an enemy of a would-be ally.


Middle English: from Old French enemi, from Latin inimicus, from in- 'not' + amicus 'friend'.

  • An enemy is not your friend. So far, so obvious, but this is, in fact, the derivation of the word. It came into the language at the end of the 13th century from Old French enemi, from Latin inimicus, which was based on in- meaning ‘not’ and amicus ‘friend’. Inimicus is the source of inimical (late 17th century) or ‘hostile’, and amicus of amicable (mid 16th century) or ‘friendly’.

Words that rhyme with enemy


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: enemy

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