adversary

noun
ad·​ver·​sary | \ ˈad-vər-ˌser-ē How to pronounce adversary (audio) , ˈad-və-, -ˌse-rē\
plural adversaries

Definition of adversary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one that contends with, opposes, or resists : an enemy or opponent a clever adversary

adversary

adjective

Definition of adversary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or involving an enemy or adversary
2 : having or involving antagonistic parties or opposing interests Divorce can be an adversary proceeding.

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Other Words from adversary

Noun

adversariness noun

Did You Know?

Noun

If you've ever had someone turn on you and become your adversary, you've inadvertently lived out the etymology of adversary. The word is from the Latin adjective adversarius ("turned toward" or "antagonistic toward"), which in turn can be traced back to the verb advertere, meaning "to turn to." "Advertere" itself derives from ad- and vertere ("turn"), and "vertere" is the source of a number of English words. Along with obvious derivatives like "inadvertently" and "adverse" are some surprises, such as "anniversary," "prose," and "vertebra," among others.

Examples of adversary in a Sentence

Noun

He's a very smart criminal who pushes emotional buttons to get what he wants. He's quite a worthy adversary for Mac and the team. TV Guide, 2-8 June 2008 American diplomacy after World War II exemplified the soundness of this principle. We put our power at the disposal of all who cherished freedom and peace. We did things for others they couldn't do for themselves. We defended others, yes, but we also forgave our former enemies and helped reconcile old adversaries, such as France and Germany. — Colin L. Powell, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2004 Nike's adversary was an amorphous group of disgruntled consumers connected by a decentralized network of e-mail addresses. Although the press has presented my battle with Nike as a David versus Goliath parable, the real story is the battle between a company like Nike, with access to the mass media, and a network of citizens on the Internet … — Jonah Peretti, Nation, 9 Apr. 2001 Not perfected until the eve of World War I, this small boat cruised on the surface with a diesel engine that also charged the batteries that powered the submarine's electric motors for submerged operation. If it spotted an adversary, the submarine would dive, either to escape or attack. — Archer Jones, Elements of Military Strategy, 1996 His political adversaries tried to prevent him from winning the nomination. our old cat seemed to consider the new kitten an adversary

Adjective

The quest for air superiority would come to include strikes on adversary airfields, but only as part of a larger effort also involving such staples as defensive fighter interception, offensive air sweeps, and escort missions with bombers designed to draw enemy fighters into battle. — John Prados, MHQ : The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Spring 1996 Critics of military justice complain that it is not a true adversary system because the JAG has authority over judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys and controls the funds of each. — Fred Strasser, National Law Journal, 4 Mar. 1991 there was a long history of adversary dealings between the two nations
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The god of war has long been an adversary for Diana and the Amazonians and his switch to the opposite side—which may or may not be temporary—offers up a host of problems. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "A New Wonder Woman Wonders Whether War Is Ever Worth It," 26 Nov. 2018 Played by David Berry, Grey is first an adversary of Jamie Fraser's, and then later a friend. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Diana Gabaldon Hints at the Possibility of an Outlander Spin-Off Series," 18 Oct. 2018 Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Ryan Zinke to the oil and gas industry: “Our government should work for you”," 21 Sep. 2018 As the antagonist of Kwan’s novel, Eleanor is more clearly a shallow adversary who spends much of her time scheming against Rachel, and snooping through her family details. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "How Crazy Rich Asians turns a traditional Asian rom-com trope into a modern statement," 18 Aug. 2018 Sore breasts, back aches, bloating, fatigue and cramps are natural adversaries of freaky feelings. Shan Boodram, Teen Vogue, "Period Sex 101: Everything You Need to Know," 19 July 2018 But Redding recognizes what a tough adversary Johnson is. Shaun Assael, Glamour, "The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments," 16 Aug. 2018 Readers of this column may struggle to pick a side between adversaries representing the entertainment industry and the news media. James Freeman, WSJ, "Hollywood vs. the Press," 10 Aug. 2018 Economic and security ties have grown in recent years between the two former adversaries, in part because leaders on both sides see a stronger relationship as a bulwark against growing Chinese political and economic influence. Mike Ives, New York Times, "Phan Van Khai, First Vietnamese Prime Minister to Visit Washington, Dies at 84," 23 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In the story's boldest stroke of gallows humor, Joe and a fallen adversary croon softly together to a song on the radio, two souls improbably united by the strange, terrible intimacy of professional murder. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Joaquin Phoenix descends into a hellish New York underworld in the haunting 'You Were Never Really Here'," 5 Apr. 2018 At the same time, Trump's tirades against trade deals with nations like China played into a belief among many people that such pacts had hollowed out the American dream, while building middle classes lives for citizens of adversary nations. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Private jets scandal, tax plan test Trump's brand," 28 Sep. 2017 In oral arguments via telephone Tuesday, a panel of three appellate judges pressed both Purcell and adversary August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant U.S. attorney general, for additional evidence to back up their claims. Marisa Kendall, The Mercury News, "Trump travel ban case: States to file more evidence of ban’s harm," 9 Feb. 2017 The measure would bar the Pentagon from buying satellite services if there is a threat that they could be compromised by cyber vulnerabilities or because they are launched by or contained parts from adversary nations. John M. Donnelly, The Seattle Times, "House defense panel would create space combat force," 20 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adversary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adversary

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adversary

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Middle English adversaire, adversarie, borrowed from Anglo-French adverser, adverserie, borrowed from Latin adversārius, noun derivative from adversārius "opposed (to), inimical, adverse," from adversus "turned toward, facing" + -ārius -ary entry 2 — more at adverse

Adjective

earlier, "opposed, antagonistic," going back to Middle English adversarie, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin adversārius — more at adversary entry 1

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Statistics for adversary

Last Updated

7 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for adversary

The first known use of adversary was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for adversary

adversary

noun
ad·​ver·​sary | \ ˈad-vər-ˌser-ē How to pronounce adversary (audio) \
plural adversaries

Kids Definition of adversary

adversary

noun
ad·​ver·​sary | \ ˈad-vər-ˌser-ē How to pronounce adversary (audio) \

Legal Definition of adversary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one that contends with or opposes another especially : any of the opposing parties in a legal action

adversary

adjective

Legal Definition of adversary (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or involving opposing parties or interests specifically : of, relating to, or involving a system of justice in which opposing parties usually represented by counsel present evidence to an impartial decision-maker (as a jury) by a process of questioning witnesses under the supervision of a judge — compare accusatorial, inquisitorial

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