a person who feels enmity, hatred, or malice toward another; enemy: a bitter foe.
a military enemy; hostile army.
a person belonging to a hostile army or nation.
an opponent in a game or contest; adversary: a political foe.
a person who is opposed in feeling, principle, etc., to something: a foe to progress in civil rights.
a thing that is harmful to or destructive of something: Sloth is the foe of health.

Origin of foe

before 900; Middle English foo, Old English fāh hostile, gefāh enemy; cognate with Old High German gifēh at war. See feud1

Synonyms for foe

1. See enemy. 1, 3–5. opponent, antagonist.

Antonyms for foe

1–3. friend.


Fraternal Order of Eagles. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for foe

enemy, adversary, antagonist, rival, anti

Examples from the Web for foe

Contemporary Examples of foe

Historical Examples of foe

  • It contrasts "foe and friend," just as the sonnet contrasts "love and hate."

  • We are natural enemies; and when your foe is disabled, then is the time to strike.

  • By this time, the first of August, we knew more about the foe we were to meet.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • They lie at the mercy of every foe, of every passion, of every change.

  • Ignorant of the law—the law only seemed to him, as it ever does to the ignorant and the friendless—a Foe.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for foe



formal, or literary another word for enemy

Word Origin for foe

Old English fāh hostile; related to Old High German fēhan to hate, Old Norse feikn dreadful; see feud 1



abbreviation for

Friends of the Earth
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 foe

Old English gefa "foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud" (the prefix denotes "mutuality"), from fah "at feud, hostile," from Proto-Germanic *fakhaz (cf. Old High German fehan "to hate," Gothic faih "deception"), probably from PIE root *peig- "evil-minded, treacherous, hostile" (cf. Sanskrit pisunah "malicious," picacah "demon;" Greek pikros "bitter;" Lithuanian piktas "wicked, angry," pekti "to blame"). Weaker sense of "adversary" is first recorded c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper