en·​e·​my | \ ˈe-nə-mē How to pronounce enemy (audio) \
plural enemies

Definition of enemy

1 : one that is antagonistic to another especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent
2 : something harmful or deadly alcohol was his greatest enemy
3a : a military adversary
b : a hostile unit or force

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for enemy



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of enemy in a Sentence

He made a lot of enemies during the course of his career. Tradition is the enemy of progress.
Recent Examples on the Web Amalia is always going on about her big mission, and identifying a common enemy is one way for a general to raise an army. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, "The Nevers Recap: Whodunnit," 2 May 2021 Although pharma businesses aren’t always known for lending each other a hand, a big part of Brainstorm Health’s second day focused on companies’ collaborations when COVID emerged as a common enemy. Fortune, "Health care’s access dilemma and lessons from Brainstorm Health," 29 Apr. 2021 In the 1930s, the Navy and Marine Corps identified Japan as a likely future enemy and developed—and practiced—the ideas of naval aviation and island-hopping that eventually won the Pacific War. Seth Cropsey, WSJ, "America’s Naval Strategy Is at Sea," 27 Apr. 2021 In fact, the climate crisis is literally a world war, against a common enemy. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Biden’s Earth Day Climate Pledge for 2030 Will Define His Presidency," 22 Apr. 2021 Rates usually fall off during times of war or natural disasters, when people feel drawn together to fight for survival against a common enemy. New York Times, "U.S. Suicides Declined Over All in 2020 but May Have Risen Among People of Color," 15 Apr. 2021 Eritrea, a longtime Tigray enemy, teamed up with neighboring Ethiopia in the conflict. Time, "The U.N. Is Warning of an 'Alarming' Crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray Region," 26 Mar. 2021 In many ways, this is a change from the days of Latasha Harlins, uniting around a common enemy of white supremacy. Los Angeles Times, "Column: The secret to keeping this moment of solidarity between Black and Asian Americans," 24 Mar. 2021 Amazon makes for a convenient enemy for Republicans who exhibit only opportunistic concern for workers. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Marco Rubio’s Lazy, Bad Faith Effort to Weaponize Amazon Workers," 12 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of enemy

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for enemy

Middle English enmy, enemi, borrowed from Anglo-French enemi, going back to Latin inimīcus, noun derivative of inimīcus, adjective, "of an opponent, unfriendly, hostile," from in- in- entry 1 + amīcus "friendly, well-disposed, loving" — more at amiable

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about enemy

Time Traveler for enemy

Time Traveler

The first known use of enemy was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for enemy

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Enemy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enemy. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for enemy



English Language Learners Definition of enemy

: someone who hates another : someone who attacks or tries to harm another
: something that harms or threatens someone or something
: a group of people (such as a nation) against whom another group is fighting a war


en·​e·​my | \ ˈe-nə-mē How to pronounce enemy (audio) \
plural enemies

Kids Definition of enemy

1 : a person who hates another : a person who attacks or tries to harm another
2 : a country or group of people with which another country or group is at war or a person belonging to such a country or group
3 : something that harms or threatens Drought is the farmer's enemy.

More from Merriam-Webster on enemy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enemy

Nglish: Translation of enemy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enemy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on enemy

What made you want to look up enemy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!