See more synonyms for adversary on
noun, plural ad·ver·sar·ies.
  1. a person, group, or force that opposes or attacks; opponent; enemy; foe.
  2. a person, group, etc., that is an opponent in a contest; contestant.
  3. the Adversary, the devil; Satan.
adjective Also especially British, ad·ver·sar·i·al [ad-ver-sair-ee-uhl] /ˌæd vərˈsɛər i əl/.
  1. of or relating to an adversary.
  2. involving adversaries, as plaintiff and defendant in a legal proceeding: an adversary trial.

Origin of adversary

1300–50; Middle English adversarie < Latin adversārius, equivalent to advers(us) (see adverse) + -ārius -ary; replacing Middle English adversere < Anglo-French
Related formsad·ver·sar·i·ness, nounnon·ad·ver·sar·i·al, adjective

Synonym study

1. Adversary, antagonist mean a person or a group contending against another. Adversary suggests an enemy who fights determinedly, continuously, and relentlessly: a formidable adversary. Antagonist suggests one who, in hostile spirit, opposes another, often in a particular contest or struggle: a duel with an antagonist.

Antonyms for adversary

1. ally. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for adversary

enemy, competitor, foe, rival, antagonist, bandit, contestant, opposer, match

Examples from the Web for adversary

Contemporary Examples of adversary

Historical Examples of adversary

  • They administer stinging rebukes that leave the adversary writhing.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman."

  • In Calendar's driver, however, he had an adversary of abilities by no means to be despised.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • He tried to imagine the combat, his own attitude, and the position of his adversary.

  • Still however I will not shrink, I will not yield an inch to my adversary.


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for adversary


noun plural -saries
  1. a person or group that is hostile to someone; enemy
  2. an opposing contestant in a game or sport
  1. the US term for adversarial (def. 2)

Word Origin for adversary

C14: from Latin adversārius, from adversus against. See adverse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for adversary

mid-14c., aduersere, from Anglo-French adverser (13c.), Old French adversaire "adversary, opponent, enemy," or directly from Latin adversarius "opponent, adversary, rival," noun use of adjective meaning "opposite, hostile, contrary," literally "turned toward one," from adversus "turned against" (see adverse). The Latin word is glossed in Old English by wiðerbroca.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper