1. a person who feels enmity, hatred, or malice toward another; enemy: a bitter foe.
  2. a military enemy; hostile army.
  3. a person belonging to a hostile army or nation.
  4. an opponent in a game or contest; adversary: a political foe.
  5. a person who is opposed in feeling, principle, etc., to something: a foe to progress in civil rights.
  6. 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for foes

enemy, adversary, antagonist, rival, anti

Examples from the Web for foes

Contemporary Examples of foes

Historical Examples of foes

British Dictionary definitions for foes


  1. 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
  1. 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 foes



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