The Meaning of Foe: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of foe? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word foe, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word foe mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word foe is a noun (pronunciation of foe: fəʊ) that refers to a person who has personal enmity for another. This could be an enemy in war, principle, or some other form of adversary. This might be an armed adversary or military force, such as armed forces, the military forces of a nation, armed services, a war machine, potential target, foes of liberty, civil rights deniers, or someone who generally has hatred or malice toward another, such as a mortal enemy, scoundrel, or one that a person holds a grudge against. The plural of foe is foes. This word is sometimes considered a shorthand, abbreviation, or slang term for the word foeman, though the full form is archaic.

Different languages also contain words that mean foe. You might notice that some of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates. A cognate is when two different languages contain words that mean the same thing and also look and sound similar. These are often formed when the two words have the same language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations of foe is provided by Word Sense.

  • Malayalam: ശത്രു‎
  •  Laz: დუშმენი‎, დუშმანი‎
  •  Old Provençal: enemic‎
  •  Sardinian: anemigu‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: враг‎ (masc.), неприя́тел‎ (masc.), противник‎ (masc.), душманин‎ (masc.)
  •  Tajik: душман‎
  •  Turkish: düşman‎
  •  Malay: musuh‎, lawan‎, seteru‎
  •  Quechua: awqa‎
  •  Old English: fēond‎ (masc.), andsaca‎ (masc.)
  •  Kyrgyz: жоо‎
  •  Bats: მასთხოვ‎
  •  French: ennemi‎ (masc.), ennemie‎ (fem.)
  •  Faroese: fíggindi‎ (masc.), óvinur‎ (masc.)
  •  Sanskrit: अरि‎, शत्रु‎
  •  Venetian: nemigo‎ (masc.), inimigo‎ (masc.)
  •  Mongolian: дайсан‎
  •  Avar: тушман‎
  •  Asturian: enemigu‎ (masc.), enemiga‎ (fem.)
  •  Persian: دشمن‎ (došman), خصم‎ (xasm)
  •  Old French: enemi‎ (masc.)‎
  • Kurdish: dijmin‎, دوژمن
  •  Azeri: düşmən‎
  •  Swedish: fiende‎ (common)
  •  Ido: enemiko‎
  •  Ukrainian: во́рог‎ (masc.), проти́вник‎ (masc.), супроти́вник‎ (masc.), не́друг‎ (masc.)
  •  Latvian: ienaidnieks‎ (masc.), naidnieks‎ (masc.)
  •  Estonian: vaenlane‎
  •  Armenian: թշնամի‎, ոսոխ‎
  •  Svan: ამახვ‎
  •  Catalan: enemic‎ (masc.)
  •  Turkmen: duşman‎
  •  Ossetian: знаг‎, фыдгул‎
  •  Icelandic: óvinur‎ (masc.)
  •  Welsh: gelyn‎ (masc.)
  •  Burmese: ငြိုးသူရန်ဖက်‎, ရန်ဖက်‎
  •  Sicilian: nimicu‎ (masc.), nemicu‎ (masc.)
  •  Hindi: दुश्मन‎, शत्रु‎
  • Greek: εχθρός‎ (masc.)
  •  Polish: wróg‎ (masc.), nieprzyjaciel‎ (masc.), przeciwnik‎ (masc.)
  •  Kannada: ಶತ್ರು‎
  •  Esperanto: malamiko‎, malamikino‎
  •  Alabama: ātikànko‎
  •  Russian: враг‎ (masc.), проти́вник‎ (masc.), проти́вница‎ (fem.), неприя́тель‎ (masc.), неприя́тельница‎ (fem.), не́друг‎ (masc.), во́рог‎ (masc.) (dated or poetic)
  •  Danish: fjende‎ (common)
  • ‎  Hebrew: אוֹיֵב
  •  Spanish: enemigo‎ (masc.), enemiga‎ (fem.)
  •  Kazakh: жау‎
  • ‎  Urdu: دشمن
  •  Irish: namhaid‎ (masc.)
  •  Kashubian: warg‎ (masc.)
  •  Belarusian: во́раг‎ (masc.), праці́ўнік‎ (masc.)
  •  Occitan: enemic‎ (masc.)
  •  Latgalian: īnaidnīks‎ (masc.)
  •  Bengali: শত্রু‎ (shôtru), দুশমন‎ (dushmôn)
  •  Novial: enemike‎
  •  Vietnamese: kẻ thù‎, kẻ địch‎
  •  Tibetan: དགྲ་བོ‎
  •  Romanian: dușman‎ (masc.), inamic‎ (masc.), vrăjmaș‎ (masc.)
  •  Albanian: armik‎
  •  Slovene: sovražnik‎ (masc.)
  •  Low German:
  •  Breton: enebour‎ (masc.)
  •  Old Church Slavonic:
  •  Portuguese: inimigo‎ (masc.), inimiga‎ (fem.)
  •  Swahili: adui‎
  •  Rusyn: во́рог‎ (masc.)
  •  Tamil: இரிஞன்‎, சத்துரு‎, சதேரன்‎, தெவ்வன்‎, பகைவன்‎, பொருநன்‎, வேரியன்‎
  •  Slovak: nepriateľ‎ (masc.)
  •  Hungarian: ellenség‎
  •  Maori: hoariri‎
  •  Neapolitan: nemmìco‎ (masc.)
  •  Latin: inimīcus‎ (masc.)
  •  Uzbek: dushman‎
  •  Dutch: vijand‎ (masc.), tegenstander‎ (masc.)
  •  Navajo: anaʼí‎
  •  Tatar: дошман‎
  •  Old East Slavic: ворогъ‎ (masc.)
  •  Cyrillic: нѐпријатељ‎ (masc.), непријатѐљица‎ (fem.)
  •  Cherokee: ᏓᎾᏓᏍᎧᎩ‎ (danadaskagi)
  •  Dalmatian: nemaic‎ (masc.)
  •  Maltese: għadu‎ (masc.)
  •  Czech: nepřítel‎ (masc.)
  •  Ngazidja Comorian: âdui‎
  •  Hawaiian: hoa paio‎
  •  Thai: ศัตรู‎ (sàt dtroo)
  •  Lao: ສັດຕູ‎
  •  Cyrillic: врагъ‎ (masc.)
  •  Macedonian: непријател‎ (masc.), душман‎ (masc.)
  •  Tok Pisin: birua‎
  •  Roman: nèprijatelj‎ (masc.), neprijatèljica‎ (fem.)
  •  German Low German: Feend‎ (masc.), Feendin‎ (fem.), Fiend‎ (masc.), Fiendin‎ (fem.), Gegensmann‎ (masc.), Gegensfro‎ (fem.)
  •  Interlingua: inimico‎
  •  Norwegian: fiende‎ (masc.), uvenn‎ (masc.)
  •  Baluchi: دژمن‎ (dužman), دشمن‎ (dušman)
  •  Volapük: neflen‎
  •  Santali: ᱫᱩᱥᱢᱚᱱ‎ (dusman)
  •  Telugu: శత్రువు‎
  •  Bashkir: дошман‎
  •  Korean: 적‎ (敵‎)
  •  Friulian: nimì‎ (masc.), inimì‎ (masc.)
  •  Chuvash: тӑшман‎
  •  Udi: дуьшмаьн‎
  •  Sinhalese: සතුරා‎
  •  Afrikaans: vyand‎
  •  Japanese: 敵‎ (てき, teki, かたき, kataki)
  •  Middle French: ennemy‎ (masc.)
  •  German: Feind‎ (masc.), Feindin‎ (fem.), Gegner‎ (masc.), Gegnerin‎ (fem.)
  •  Mandarin: 敵人‎, 敌人‎ (dírén), 仇敵‎, 仇敌‎ (chóudí)
  •  Egyptian Arabic: عدو‎
  •  Lithuanian: priešas‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: vihollinen‎
  •  Arabic: عَدُو‎ (masc.), خَصْم‎ (masc.)
  •  Tagalog: kaaway‎
  •  Khmer: សត្រូវ‎ (sattrəv), ខ្មាំង‎ (kmang)
  •  Norman: enn’mîn‎ (masc.)
  •  Georgian: მტერი‎
  •  Malagasy: dovy‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: dušman‎ (masc.), neprijatelj‎ (masc.), dušmanin‎ (masc.)
  •  Indonesian: musuh‎, lawan‎
  •  Italian: nemico‎ (masc.)
  •  Abkhaz: аӷа‎, (old spelling) аҕа‎
  •  Galician: inimigo‎ (masc.)
  •  Shor: ырчы‎ (ırçı)

How can the word foe be used in a sentence?

The word foe can be used in many different sentences. Below are a few examples. 

The political foes were eager to know who won the contest, though they knew they would have to find cooperation after the results came in. 

His sloth was a bitter foe of health. If he was not so lazy, the doctors would not believe he was playing a dangerous game of death. 

Though they were old foes during the military machine, the man decided to attend his bitter foe’s funeral mass out of respect.

While they were in awe of his intellect, a number of old friends of the politician lived in fear of his directness, and became more foe than friend in his empire of fear.

The once tenacious foes Anna and Charles became friends when they realized it was all due to a misunderstanding. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word foe?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word foe. These are called synonyms, Which are words and phrases that mean the same thing as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and can help you avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word foe is provided by Thesaurus

  • assailant
  •  saboteur
  •  prosecutor
  •  backbiter
  •  asperser
  •  betrayer
  •  spy
  •  rival
  •  assassin
  •  invader
  •  archenemy
  •  other side
  •  guerrilla
  •  criminal
  •  murderer
  •  disputant
  •  fifth column
  •  rebel
  •  slanderer
  •  bad person
  •  opponent
  •  enemy
  •  bandit
  •  inquisitor
  •  defiler
  •  competitor
  •  antagonist
  •  adversary
  •  attacker
  •  agent
  •  traitor
  •  defamer
  •  calumniator
  •  vilifier
  •  terrorist
  •  revolutionary
  •  traducer
  •  seditionist
  •  opposition
  •  detractor
  •  villain
  •  emulator
  •  informer
  •  contender
  •  falsifier

Are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word foe. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word foe is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • compatriot
  •  playmate
  •  chum
  •  acquaintance
  •  familiar
  •  schoolmate
  •  ally
  •  buddy
  •  cousin
  •  comrade
  •  mate
  •  intimate
  •  classmate
  •  spare
  •  consort
  •  partner
  •  friend
  •  sidekick
  •  soul mate
  •  crony
  •  cohort
  •  alter ego
  •  well-wisher
  •  associate
  •  colleague
  •  roommate
  •  companion
  •  confidant
  •  pal
  •  bosom buddy

What is the origin of the word foe?

According to Etymonline, the word for comes from the Middle English fo, Old English gefea, Old English fāh, or Old English gefā. This comes from the adjective fah, from the Proto-Germanic faihaz, from the Old High German fēhan meaning to hate and the Gothic faih meaning deception.  These likely have the same Proto-Indo-European roots as the Sanskrit pisunah and picacah, the Old Norse feikn, Old Frisian fāch, Latin piget, Albanian pis, and the Lithuanian piktas, peik and peikti.

Overall, the word foe means some enemy or adversary, or something injurious. This person often is in a feud with another person. This can refer to a military enemy, political foe, personal enemy, hostile army, or any other person who one feels is evil. This word origin is ofromf Old English, Middle English, and Proto-Germanic roots. 

Sources: 

  1. foe: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. FOE Synonyms: 11 Synonyms & Antonyms for FOE | Thesaurus 
  3. FRIEND Synonyms: 50 Synonyms & Antonyms for FRIEND | Thesaurus 
  4. foe | Origin and meaning of foe | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Foe | Definition of Foe | Merriam-Webster