Definition of enemy in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘So he decided to make peace with the Church in order to have a free hand to deal with his more dangerous enemies.’
    • ‘The entire clan was a bitter enemy of Islam from the start.’
    • ‘He was relieved as he saw that his enemy would do no more harm to lives of the happily free.’
    • ‘A real Chinese martial arts hero never strikes his enemy if the latter is unable to fight back.’
    • ‘She was disappointed in this, as her instincts told her that he was the most dangerous of enemies.’
    • ‘Through lies and misunderstanding this results in him becoming the sworn enemy of his own mother.’
    • ‘They are determined to harm their enemies whoever this may be and are thus a great threat to our societies.’
    • ‘The cannon in question is retired and would be used only as a decoy to fool enemies in the event of an attack.’
    • ‘Anyone who seeks radical change is going to make enemies of those who benefit from the current system.’
    • ‘Albert did his best to smile at a man who was supposed to be his enemy despite being critically ill himself.’
    • ‘He died in Rome and some accounts say he was poisoned by his enemies, other accounts say he died from the plague.’
    • ‘It was well hidden and difficult for an enemy to identify from the air or from the ground.’
    • ‘In other words he is a dangerous enemy and consequently a good man to have on one's side provided one can keep an eye on him.’
    • ‘He was usually slow to anger but once his wrath was roused he made a dangerous enemy.’
    • ‘I was willing to take the risk of having an enemy in my midst in order to get a hold of your brilliance.’
    • ‘Somehow they blamed each other, deciding their sworn enemy was the sole reason for their anger.’
    • ‘He was a man of many enemies, and these enemies were to be found in all political camps.’
    • ‘He has become the arch enemy of mankind.’
    • ‘She was still my sworn enemy who was trying to tear me down in whatever way possible.’
    foe, adversary, opponent, rival, nemesis, antagonist, combatant, challenger, competitor, opposer, hostile party
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the enemytreated 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’
      • ‘Democracies are entitled to try officers and soldiers of enemy forces for war crimes.’
      • ‘Artillery guns were also used to fire gas shells to deliver poisonous gas onto the enemy.’
      • ‘Since the main part of the Jacobite army never engaged the enemy, losses were relatively light.’
      • ‘The bulk of the infantry was kept back out of range of the enemy guns, ready to counter-attack.’
      • ‘The enemy soldier fell to the ground with the arrow protruding from his back.’
      • ‘Doing so will help us stay tactically sharp and be able to take the fight to the enemy.’
      • ‘Surprise is to strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared.’
      • ‘The time to face the enemy had now come, he rallied his men into their battle formations.’
      • ‘Then the tank behind it apparently mistook an armored vehicle for the enemy and shot and destroyed it.’
      • ‘The vicious fighting involved hand to hand combat and all the enemy were either killed or captured.’
      • ‘Union troops suffered from heavy enemy artillery fire until they were able to dig in and reduce their exposure.’
      • ‘Increasingly U.S. troops are fighting the enemy on urban battlefields.’
      • ‘There, they were to interdict US lines of communication by destroying enemy shipping.’
      • ‘The object of war is to destroy the enemy's capability to make war.’
      • ‘In major battles there was as much chance of a submarine being attacked by its own side as opposed to the enemy.’
      • ‘This has been a traditional way of attacking the enemy since the days of Wellington.’
      • ‘That means, he argues, that the West must learn new ways of detecting and combating the enemy.’
      • ‘Not a shot had been fired and not a single Allied aircraft had attacked the enemy aircraft.’
      • ‘The enemy aircraft were destroyed not only in the air but also on airfields.’
      • ‘U.S. Special Forces engaged and killed approximately two dozen enemy forces in a firefight that started with an ambush.’
    2. 1.2 A thing that harms or weakens something else.
      ‘routine is the enemy of art’
      • ‘The virus is a challenging enemy that has evolved many ways to avoid detection and elimination.’
      • ‘They are murderers, and more importantly, they are sworn enemies of democracy and the rule of law.’
      • ‘Part of my psyche is tuned to the belief that routine is the enemy of invention.’
      • ‘He will cast his opponents as enemies of change, he will appeal over their heads to the British people.’
      • ‘In a rather bold twist, the traditional enemy of poetry is turned into a poet himself!’
      • ‘"You have not killed an enemy of freedom, " says me.’
      • ‘After all, as he explains at length in his book, these three things have a common enemy in risk aversion.’


  • 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’
      • ‘I think a lot of the time I can be my own worst enemy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The team were their own worst enemy as they squandered numerous chances in a nervous opening game.’
      • ‘Hitler went from being a superb strategist in the early part of his rule to being his own worst enemy later on.’
  • make an enemy of

    • Cause (someone) to start feeling hostile to one.

      ‘by 1776 he had made an enemy of the queen’
      • ‘But making an enemy of its own core market has to be like commiting suicide.’
      • ‘It just doesn't help to make an enemy of the person with the power to grant your request.’
      • ‘By 1776 he had made an enemy of the queen through his clumsy intervention against one of her protégés in a complicated diplomatic incident.’
      • ‘By placing it in the enemy camp, the President made an enemy of a would-be ally.’
      • ‘Pointing out her shortcomings will do no good, and you really don't want to make an enemy of your girlfriend's roommate.’
      • ‘This lawsuit will make an enemy of Weinstein that no other action could have inspired.’
      • ‘The glamorous cabinet minister sacked by the president made an enemy of of the president's wife with early morning calls.’
      • ‘The marchers' defiant smugness started to make an enemy of me.’
      • ‘She spurns his advances on several occasions, but he remains persistent, warning Eliza that she should not make an enemy of him.’
      • ‘If the club have made an enemy of adversity in the current campaign then Hughes has become its ally.’


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