early 13c., "one hateful toward and intent on harming (someone)," from Old French enemi (12c., Modern French ennemi), earlier inimi (9c.) "enemy, adversary, foe; demon, the Devil," from Latin inimicus "an enemy," literally "an unfriend," noun use of adjective meaning "hostile, unfriendly" (source also of Italian nemico, Catalan enamic, Spanish enemigo, Portuguese inimigo), from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + amicus "friend" related to amare "to love" (see Amy). From c. 1300 in English as "adversary of God, unbeliever, heathen, anti-Christian;" late 14c. as "the Devil;" also late 14c. as "member of an armed, hostile body in a war, feud, etc.;" of the opposing military forces as a whole, from c. 1600. From mid-14c. as an adjective.
Most Indo-European words for "personal enemy" cover also "enemy in war," but certain languages have special terms for the latter, such as Greek polemioi (distinct from ekhthroi), Latin hostis, originally "stranger" (distinct from inimicus), Russian neprijatel' (distinct from vrag). Russian vrag (Old Church Slavonic vragu) is cognate with Lithuanian vargas "misery" (see urge (v.)), and probably is related to Proto-Germanic *wargoz, source of Old Norse vargr "outlaw," hence "wolf;" Icelandic vargur "fox;" Old English wearg "criminal, felon;" which likely were the inspirations for J.R.R. Tolkien's warg as the name of a kind of large ferocious wolf in "The Hobbit" (1937) and "Lord of the Rings." Related: Enemies.
updated on August 30, 2014