individual or a group that is verified as forcefully adverse or threatening
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Enemies are those who are seen as forcefully adverse or threatening. The term is usually used within the greater context of war, to denote an opposing group as a threat.


Observe your enemies, for they first find out your faults. – Antisthenes
A reckless king will easily fall into the hands of his enemies. Hence the king shall ever be wakeful. ~ Chanakya
No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Who judges best of a Man, his Enemies or himself? – Benjamin Franklin
A man's enemies have no power to harm him, if he is true to himself and loyal to God. – John Bartholomew Gough
The wise person finds enemies more useful than the fool does friends. – Baltasar Gracián
  • His father was no man's friend but his owne, and he (saith the prouerbe) is no man's foe else.
  • The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle's own plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.
  • There is only one thing more useful in politics than having the right friends, and that is having the right enemies.
    • Anonymous, Economist 375: 8432 (25 June 2005), p. 84.

  • Have you forgotten the story of "Lorna Doone"—how the Doones, men of high family, who had fallen under the displeasure of the Government, had betaken themselves to the Doone Valley, surrounded on all sides by precipitous mountains, and from this strongly fortified position levied their blackmail upon the surrounding country, killing and robbing and outraging the people of the land until the citizens were aroused and determined to extirpate them? Do you recall how the men of the eastern county gathered together on the eastern mountain, and the men from the western county gathered on the western mountain, with their arms and cannon ready to fall upon the Doones and destroy them, when by some untoward accident a cannon from the western ranks was trained across the valley and shot into the ranks of the men of the east, and how, inflamed by this accident, the men on the east trained their guns across the valley into the ranks of the men of the west, and while these foolish people were slaughtering one another, the Doones sallied forth and put both counties to flight and continued to rob and kill and outrage for years to come.
    Let us heed the lesson, my countrymen! Let me say to Governor Kitchin and Senator Simmons and Chief Justice Clark: The Doones are in the valley. I pray you, gentlemen, train your guns a little lower.
    • Charles B. Aycock, governor of North Carolina, address prepared for delivery in Raleigh, North Carolina, April 12, 1912. R. D. W. Connor and Clarence Poe, The Life and Speeches of Charles Brantley Aycock, p. 361–62 (1912). Aycock did not give the address because he died while making a speech on April 4. The story is from Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore.
  • I tell thee, be not rash; a golden bridge
    is for a flying enemy.
  • A reckless king will easily fall into the hands of his enemies. Hence the king shall ever be wakeful.
  • The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror's territory is termed the enemy.
    The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror).
  • But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.
  • Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
  • A weak Invention of the Enemy.
  • Let us admit, then, quite frankly that the military profession was a means of making a living by taking the property of others. Its peculiarity was that it was the only means to that end that was—I suppose that I may say that is—reckoned honourable. The only essential point was that the person whose property was to be taken should be declared, or at any rate considered, to be an enemy. A penniless younger son who stole a sheep in England was liable to be hanged for his pains; but, if he joined some adventure overseas, or took service in the army of some foreign power, he could steal as many of the enemy's sheep as pleased him. Moreover, he was tolerably sure of a share of plunder, and he might, if lucky, capture some prisoner of high rank and obtain high ransom for him.
    • John Fortescue, The British Soldier and the Empire, Raleigh Lecture on History (1920), quote from pages 410–411, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 9
  • You and I were long friends; you are now my enemy, and I am yours.
  • Depend on me; never fear your enemies. Ill warrant We make more noise than they.
    • Henry Fielding, The Universal Gallant : Or, the Different Husbands, A Comedy (1735).
  • A man's enemies have no power to harm him, if he is true to himself and loyal to God.
    • John Bartholomew Gough, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 208.
  • Never fear your, enemies. A bold fight is the best: we should advance, and not retrograde.
    • William Alanson Howard, Official Proceedings of the National Republican Conventions of 1868, 1872, 1876, and 1880 (1903), p. 250.
  • We have met the enemy and he is us.
    • Walt Kelly, the words of Pogo in an Earth Day, 1971, cartoon strip, The Best of Pogo, ed. Mrs. Walt Kelly and Bill Crouch, Jr., p. 163 (1982). This succinct expression was derived from a sentence in the Foreword of an earlier publication, The Pogo Papers (1953): Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
  • Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need—not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
    • John F. Kennedy, inaugural address, January 20, 1961. The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 2. The words in quotation marks are from the Bible, Romans 12:12. This is one of seven inscriptions carved on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Wee commonly say of a prodigall man that hee is no man's foe but his owne.
    • Bishop John King, Lecture on Jonas, delivered 1594. (Ed. 1618), p. 502.
  • He who forgiveth, and is reconciled unto his enemy, shall receive his reward from God; for he loveth not the unjust doers.
    • Koran, sura 42; George Sale translation (1887), chapter 42, p. 361.
  • We pray for our enemies; we seek to persuade those who hate us without cause to live conformably to the goodly precepts of Christ, that they may become partakers with us of the joyful hope of blessings from God, the Lord of all.
    • Justin Martyr, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 207.
  • He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
  • Matthew 12:30
  • The only 'natural enemies' are those who take one’s very nature as an offence.
    • Simon May, English philosopher. The Little Book of Big Thoughts (2005).
  • We have met the enemy and they are ours—two ships, two brigs, one schooner and a sloop.
    • Oliver Hazard Perry, message to General William Henry Harrison (September 10, 1813). The earliest printed source for this is found in Robert B. McAfee, History of the Late War in the Western Country (1816), chapter 8, p. 354, and the message in its entirety as given here is reprinted in Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, ed. Logan Esarey (1922, reprinted 1975), vol. 2, p. 539. Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 (1868), p. 530, has a facsimile of the Perry message, with the introduction, "When Perry's eye perceived at a glance that victory was secure, he wrote, in pencil, on the back of an old letter, resting it upon his navy cap, that remarkable dispatch to General Harrison whose first clause has been so often quoted". No source for the original message is given. The circumstances under which the message was written have been told in many biographies of both Perry and Harrison.
  • If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
  • Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
  • Inventé par le caloumnateur ennemy.
  • If this law of Karma, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," is inevitable and exact justice, it by no means follows that we ourselves, personally, should attempt to fulfil it in this way. If we do so, we shall never emerge from the magic circle of karma. Indeed, we must forgive our personal enemies, as who knows but that the blow one receives is a return blow, well-deserved under the law of Karma? By returning such a blow with another and with a feeling of revenge in our heart, we do not outlive this karma, but we continue and even intensify it in the worst way for ourselves. Moreover, by forgiving our enemies we decrease the amount of evil in space and become immune against many blows. Similarly, let us understand the words "Love thine enemies." However, with all this, we must resist evil, if we do not want to be entirely overwhelmed by it. (26 May 1934)
  • I have political enemies, of course—men who, influenced by party feeling, are not above attacking methods and possibly my official reputation; but personal ones—wretches willing to stab me in my homelife and affections, that I can not believe. My life has been as an open book. I have harmed no man knowingly and, as far as I know, no man has ever cherished a wish to injure me.
  • In cases of defence 'tis best to weigh
    The enemy more mighty than he seems;
    So the proportions of defence are fill'd;
    Which of a weak and niggardly projection
    Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting
    A little cloth.
  • Be advis'd;
    Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
    That it do singe yourself: we may outrun,
    By violent swiftness, that which we run at,
    And lose by over-running.
  • I do believe,
    Induced by potent circumstances, that
    You are mine enemy; and make my challenge
    You shall not be my judge.
  • That you have many enemies, that know not
    Why they are so, but, like to village-curs,
    Bark when their fellows do.
  • I do defy him, and I spit at him;
    Call him a slanderous coward and a villain:
    Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
    And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
    Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps.
  • No enemy is worse than bad advice.
  • We need to think very, very clearly about who the enemy is. The enemy is the United States of America and everyone who supports it.
  • To mortify and even to injure an opponent, reproach him with the very defect or vice … you feel … in yourself.
    • Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, "The Rule of Life", Poems in Prose, in his A Reckless Character and Other Stories, trans. Isabel F. Hapgood (1904), p. 317. This appeared in Time, March 5, 1951, p. 31, in a different translation: "If you desire to put your enemy in the wrong or even to damage his reputation, blame him for the very vice which you feel in yourself."
  • J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte. La voici: Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules! Dieu m'a exaucé.
    • I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: "O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!" God granted it.
    • Voltaire in a Letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville (16 May 1767).
  • You can know an awful lot about an enemy if you know what he didn’t do as well as what he did do. If you figure out what you yourself should have done under the same circumstances, and know he didn’t do, why, that gives you some valuable hints as to his deficiencies.
  • March 27. Still they come in, with about fifty more of the rebels. They look starved and wild, but here they will have enough to eat, and will be cared for as our own men. How strange it seems to see them lying so close to those whom they met so lately with bloody intent—now all powerless to harm them, even if rage had not died out in their hearts.
  • He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
    And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

Enemies from within

  • At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
    • Abraham Lincoln, address before the Young Men's Lyceum, Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838), in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 1, p. 109.
  • Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.
    • James Madison, speech in the Virginia Convention, Richmond, Virginia (June 6, 1788), in Robert A. Rutland and Charles F. Hobson , eds., The Papers of James Madison (1977), vol. 11, p. 79.
  • Again people are looking for scapegoats. But this time the attack comes not from the outside but from within, from extremist splinter groups of the New Left made up of students and—I am sorry to acknowledge—also of some faculty who would like to see our colleges and universities denigrated, maligned and even shut down. They insinuate, distort, accuse, their aim being not to identify and correct real abuses, but always rather by crying alarm intentionally to arouse and inflame passions in order to build support for "non-negotiable demands." Clearly the old McCarthy technique is at work again…. It is more difficult to maintain a realistic sense of human limitation, to refuse to become frustrated and angry; to analyze, to assess, to seek to understand and explain; to determine to be adult and fair; and thus to work patiently to improve while refusing to succumb to either cynicism or hopelessness. It is the long way around, but it is the civilized way, and the only way for those [who] have come truly to understand the role of humane learning.
    • Nathan Marsh Pusey, speech at Harvard baccalaureate service, Cambridge, Massachusetts (June 9, 1970), reported in The New York Times (June 10, 1970), p. 1, 30.
  • I have beheld no day since the commencement of hostilities that I have thought her liberties in such eminent danger as at present. Friends and foes seem now to combine to pull down the goodly fabric as we have hitherto been raising at the expence of so much time, blood, and treasure; and unless the bodies politick will exert themselves to bring things back to first principles, correct abuses, and punish our internal foes, inevitable ruin must follow.
    • George Washington, letter to George Mason (March 27, 1779), in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (1936), vol. 14, p. 300.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 221-22.
  • Nos amis, les ennemis.
    • Our friends, the enemy.
    • Pierre-Jean de Béranger, L'Opinion de ces Demoiselles. "Nos amis, nos ennemis." [Our friends, our enemies.] Expression used by the French during the truce after the capture of Sebastopol, referring to the Russians. Recorded in the London Times of that date.
  • It is better to decide a difference between enemies than friends, for one of our friends will certainly become an enemy and one of our enemies a friend.
  • Every man is his own greatest enemy, and as it were his own executioner.
    • Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici. Same idea in Clarke, Parœmiologia (1639).
  • Whatever the number of a man's friends, there will be times in his life when he has one too few; but if he has only one enemy, he is lucky indeed if he has not one too many.
  • Nihil inimicius quam sibi ipse.
    • Man is his own worst enemy.
    • Cicero, Epistolæ ad Atticum, X. 12a, Section III.
  • Pereant amici, dum una inimici intercidant.
    • Let our friends perish, provided that our enemies fall at the same time.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Rege Deitaro, IX.
  • He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
    And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.
  • Our enemies will tell the rest with pleasure.
    • Bishop Fleetwood, Preface to Sermons. Ordered burned by House of Commons, May, 1712.
  • He has no enemy, you say;
    My friend your boast is poor,
    He who hath mingled in the fray
    Of duty that the brave endure
    Must have made foes. If he has none
    Small is the work that he has done.
    He has hit no traitor on the hip;
    Has cast no cup from perjured lip;
    Has never turned the wrong to right;
    Has been a coward in the fight.
  • Rien n'est si dangereux qu'un ignorant ami;
    Mieux vaudrait un sage ennemi.
    • Nothing is so dangerous as an ignorant friend. Better is it to have a wise enemy.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, 8, 10.
  • My nearest
    And dearest enemy.
  • The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide;
    But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.
  • His enemies shall lick the dust.
    • Psalms. LXXII. 9.
  • Pour tromper un rival l'artifice est permis;
    On peut tout employer contre ses ennemis.
    • Artifice is allowable in deceiving a rival, we may employ everything against our enemies.
    • Richelieu, Les Tuileries.
  • If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
    • Romans, XII. 20.
  • Earth could not hold us both, nor can one heaven
    Contain my deadliest enemy and me.
  • One enemy can do more hurt than ten friends can do good.
  • Je vais, combattre les ennemis de votre majeste, et je vous laisse au milieu des miens.
    • I have fought your Majesty's enemies, and I now leave you in the midst of my own.
    • Maréchal de Villars to Louis XIV, before starting for the Rhine Army. The French Ana. Attributed to Voltaire by Duvemet—Vie de Voltaire.
  • Fas est et ab hoste doceri.
    • Right it is to be taught even by the enemy.
    • Variant translation: You can learn from anyone, even your enemy.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses (Transformations) (8 A.D) IV, 428.
  • Les dons d'un ennemi leur semblainte trop à craindre.
    • To them it seemed that the gifts of an enemy were to be dreaded.
    • Voltaire, Henriade, Chapter II

See also