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[foh] /foʊ/
a person who feels enmity, hatred, or malice toward another; enemy:
a bitter foe.
a military enemy; hostile army.
a person belonging to a hostile army or nation.
an opponent in a game or contest; adversary:
a political foe.
a person who is opposed in feeling, principle, etc., to something:
a foe to progress in civil rights.
a thing that is harmful to or destructive of something:
Sloth is the foe of health.
Origin of foe
before 900; Middle English foo, Old English fāh hostile, gefāh enemy; cognate with Old High German gifēh at war. See feud1
1. See enemy. 1, 3–5. opponent, antagonist.
1–3. friend.


Fraternal Order of Eagles. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for foe
  • Unfortunately for many people, the immune system has difficulty telling friend from foe when confronted with cancer.
  • There are still a couple countries which still harbor the cold war mentality that you either are friend or foe.
  • During a fight, for example, false bravado may make a foe back down.
  • Pervasive, elusive and tough, cancer has proved to be a formidable foe against generations of bright and well-funded researchers.
  • Before long, seemingly without effort, he has annihilated his foe.
  • But he has already done well to topple a seemingly unbeatable foe.
  • He came not to humiliate the decisively defeated foe.
  • Almost all of the transformed plants remained tumor-free after infection with their bacterial foe.
  • There are numerous studies on the overall lifetime cost of nuclear power from both friend and foe.
  • Others mark the coming of age, signify tribal rank, or distinguish friend from foe.
British Dictionary definitions for foe


(formal or literary) another word for enemy
Word Origin
Old English fāh hostile; related to Old High German fēhan to hate, Old Norse feikn dreadful; see feud1


Friends of the Earth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for foe

Old English gefa "foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud" (the prefix denotes "mutuality"), from fah "at feud, hostile," from Proto-Germanic *fakhaz (cf. Old High German fehan "to hate," Gothic faih "deception"), probably from PIE root *peig- "evil-minded, treacherous, hostile" (cf. Sanskrit pisunah "malicious," picacah "demon;" Greek pikros "bitter;" Lithuanian piktas "wicked, angry," pekti "to blame"). Weaker sense of "adversary" is first recorded c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Related Abbreviations for foe


  1. Fraternal Order of Eagles
  2. Friends of the Earth
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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