noun, plural en·e·mies.


belonging to a hostile power or to any of its nationals: enemy property.
Obsolete. inimical; ill-disposed.

Origin of enemy

1250–1300; Middle English enemi < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin inimicus unfriendly, equivalent to in- in-3 + amicus friendly, friend; see amicable
Related formsnon·en·e·my, noun, plural non·en·e·mies.

Usage note

Synonyms for enemy

1. antagonist. Enemy, foe refer to a dangerous public or personal adversary. Enemy emphasizes the idea of hostility: to overcome the enemy; a bitter enemy. Foe, a more literary word, may be used interchangeably with enemy, but emphasizes somewhat more the danger to be feared from such a one: deadly foe; arch foe of humankind ( the Devil ).

Antonyms for enemy

1. friend. 2. ally.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for enemy


noun plural -mies

a person hostile or opposed to a policy, cause, person, or group, esp one who actively tries to do damage; opponent
  1. an armed adversary; opposing military force
  2. (as modifier)enemy aircraft
  1. a hostile nation or people
  2. (as modifier)an enemy alien
something that harms or opposes; adversarycourage is the enemy of failure
Related formsRelated adjective: inimical

Word Origin for enemy

C13: from Old French enemi, from Latin inimīcus hostile, from in- 1 + amīcus friend
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 enemy

early 13c., from Old French enemi (12c.), earlier inimi (9c.) "enemy, adversary, foe, demon, the Devil," from Latin inimicus "hostile, unfriendly; an enemy" (source of Italian nemico, Catalan enamic, Spanish enemigo, Portuguese inimigo), from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + amicus "friend" related to amare "to love" (see Amy).

Most words for "personal enemy" cover also "enemy in war," but certain languages have special terms for the latter, e.g. Greek polemioi (distinct from ekhthroi), Latin hostis, originally "stranger" (distinct from inimicus), Russian neprijatel' (distinct from vrag).

Russian vrag (Old Church Slavonic vragu) is cognate with Lithuanian vargas "misery" (see urge), and probably is related to Proto-Germanic *wargoz, source of Old Norse vargr "outlaw," hence "wolf;" Icelandic vargur "fox," Old English wearg "criminal, felon;" which likely were the inspirations for J.R.R. Tolkien's warg "a kind of large ferocious wolf" in "The Hobbit" (1937) and "Lord of the Rings." Related: Enemies.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper