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From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Related topics: Military
enemyen‧e‧my /ˈenəmi/ ●●● W2 noun (plural enemies) [countable]  1 ENEMYsomeone who hates you and wants to harm you She’s a dangerous enemy to have. Cats and dogs have always been natural enemies. an old enemy of her fathermake an enemy (of somebody) a ruthless businessman who made a lot of enemies the unforgettable sight of the president shaking hands with his sworn enemy (=an enemy you will always hate)somebody’s worst enemy (=the person they hate most) I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.2 AGAINST/OPPOSEsomeone who opposes or competes against you political enemies He was imprisoned for being ‘an enemy of the revolution’.3 PMWAR (also the enemy) the country against which your country is fighting in a war He was accused of collaboration with the enemy.enemy forces/aircraft/territory etc a town behind enemy linesGRAMMAR: Singular or plural verb?The enemy is usually followed by a singular verb: The enemy was defeated.In British English, you can also use a plural verb: The enemy were defeated.4 something that people think is harmful or damaging The usual enemies, cigarettes and alcohol, are targeted for tax rises. The common enemy that united them was communism.5 be your own worst enemy6 public enemy number one7 the enemy within8 CHANGE/MAKE something DIFFERENTif one thing is the enemy of another, the second thing cannot exist because the first thing destroys it Boredom is the enemy of learning.COLLOCATIONSMeanings 1,2 & 3adjectivesa great enemyHenry prepared to fight his great enemy, the king of France.a main/biggest/greatest enemyTerrorism is our country’s main enemy.an arch enemy (=main enemy, used for emphasis)The comic book character Lex Luthor is Superman’s arch enemy.bitter enemies (=enemies who hate each other very much)When these former friends quarrelled over money, they became bitter enemies.sworn enemies (=enemies who will always hate each other)The men have been sworn enemies for many years.a formidable enemy (=a very powerful enemy)The North Vietnamese army proved to be a formidable enemy.deadly enemies (=enemies who try to harm each other as much as possible)France and Germany, once deadly enemies, are now partners in the European Union.an old/traditional enemy (=one you have had a long time)In 1548, Scotland moved towards an alliance with her traditional enemy, England.a common enemy (=one shared by groups of people)We must work together against the common enemy.a political enemythe prime minister’s political enemiesverbsmake enemies (=become unfriendly with people)During her long and turbulent career, she made many enemies.defend/protect yourself from your enemiesOur country has a right to protect itself from its enemies.defeat the enemyWe will never defeat our enemies unless we stop fighting each other.nounsan enemy force (=a military group that is your enemy)The town is occupied by enemy forces.an enemy position (=a place controlled by an enemy army)General Hunt ordered an air strike on the enemy positions.phrasesbehind enemy lines (=behind the edge of an area that is controlled by an enemy army)Men from the First Airborne Division were dropped behind enemy lines.THESAURUSpersonenemy someone who does not like you because you have had a big disagreement with them in the past or someone who opposes you in business or politicsIf that’s how he treats his friends, I’d hate to be his enemy.In business, it’s best not to make too many enemies.adversary formal an enemyWhen he retired, he was replaced by his old adversary.He made the fatal mistake of underestimating his adversary.foe literary an enemyA guard called out ‘Who goes there – friend or foe?’his former foesarch enemy someone’s main enemyIn the movie, Batman goes into battle with his arch enemy the Joker.opponent someone you are competing against, for example in a sports game, competition, or electionYou win the game if you are left with more cards than your opponent. He is admired even by his political opponents.nemesis written an enemy or opponent that is impossible to defeat – a rather formal useIn the final, he met his old nemesis, Rafael Nadal.country/armyenemy a country or army that you are fighting against in a warSoldiers who were captured by the enemy suffered terribly.foe written an enemyThe Russian Army were a formidable foe.
Examples from the Corpus
enemyAnd still there was not a scrap of information about enemy naval forces.You cannot attack an enemy unless you have precise information about their numbers and position.an enemy of the Jewish peopleThe detective wanted to know whether the dead man had had any enemies.Did your husband have any enemies?Britain and France decided to unite and fight against their common enemy.Fatigue had made him slothful, and now he'd let his enemies get dangerously close.If I didn't have that curiosity I would walk into enemy lines and let myself be killed.One man was ordered to observe enemy aircraft and to warn when danger was imminent.Even though these soldiers were our enemies, I felt desperately sorry for them.the president's political enemies were quick to denounce him.The new religion considered the body, and its animal desires, as the enemy of true reason.And because the enemies should be allies, the clash is poignant.They accused him of giving secret information to the enemy.The enemy should be totally unaware of their arrival.the enemies of democracyMy parents sometimes seem to treat me as if I was their enemy.As a consequence the houseworker stands indicted as the worst enemy the environment has.natural enemiesIn the wild, the pair would be natural enemies.The pesticide killed off weevils and other insects, leaving the army worm to multiply unchecked by its natural enemies.The doctrine rested on the assumption that the country had no natural enemies and advanced no territorial claims on its neighbours.Much more can be done to improve the conservation of natural enemies in the field.But few insecticides now marketed are adequately selective, so some natural enemies are invariably killed.Reactive techniques like reorganization, retrenchment, and restriction are the natural enemies of organizational innovation.The plant toxin renders both the caterpillar and the adult butterfly particularly repellent to natural enemies.enemy forces/aircraft/territory etcTanimizu is said to have shot down 32 enemy aircraft.Should our carriers become separated during attacks by enemy aircraft, they will endeavor to remain within visual touch.Bosnia, it has been determined by some one, is considered enemy territory.Delight died at six thirty-eight a.m. when the first enemy aircraft appeared from the west.Then further enemy aircraft arrived and bombed and strafed the patrol for several hours.It later was further attenuated by including anyone killed or wounded in enemy territory, excluding the requirement of combat.Allied spokesmen make light of the fact that so many enemy aircraft remain intact.Probably due to the confusion no one thought of asking the radar station at Opana in which direction the enemy aircraft headed.
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