Share this entry

Share this page

enemy

Line breaks: enemy
Pronunciation: /ˈɛnəmi
 
/

Definition of enemy in English:

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.
Synonyms
(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!

Origin

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

More
  • 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’.

Phrases

be one's own worst enemy

1
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

2
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.

Words that rhyme with enemy

arch-enemy

Definition of enemy in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkəmbərsəm
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…