enemy


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

let (the) perfect be the enemy of (the) good

To allow the demand, desire, or insistence for perfection decrease the chances of obtaining a good or favorable result in the end. (Usually used in the negative as an imperative.) I know you want your research paper to be great, but don't let perfect be the enemy of good, or you won't even finish it in time! As a manager, you have to realize both the potential and the limits of your employees, so be sure not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
See also: enemy, good, let, of, perfect

sworn enemy

A person, group, or organization for whom one holds a particularly intense, deep-seated hatred. Our environmentalist lobby group is heading out to protest against Big Oil, our sworn enemy.
See also: enemy, sworn

enemy combatant

A term, popularized during the post-9/11 War on Terror, applied to a captured fighter who was allowed fewer rights than those laid out in the Geneva Convention. Many of the enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan were taken to be held at special military sites.
See also: enemy

keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Be very aware of your enemies' behavior in order to detect and avoid any malicious actions. A: "Why were you talking to Katie? I thought you hated her." B: "I'm trying to see if she has any dirt on me for the student council debate. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?"
See also: and, close, enemy, friend, keep

my enemy's enemy is my friend

A phrase highlighting how a common enemy can be a unifying force for otherwise disparate groups or people. I didn't want to work with that organization until I realized that we all wanted to keep the same candidate out of the White House. That's when I realized that my enemy's enemy is my friend.
See also: enemy, friend

no plan survives contact with the enemy

Military plans always need to be changed once they are enacted in real-life military situations. The saying emphasizes the need for flexibility, as opposed to strict adherence to strategy. It is attributed to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a 19th-century Prussian field marshal. Men, be ready to make changes on the battlefield—we all know that no plan survives contact with the enemy.
See also: contact, enemy, plan, survive

best is the enemy of the good

Prov. If you are too ambitious and try to make something better than you are capable of, you may ruin it. Bob: After I revise it a few more times, my novel will be the best ever written. Alan: I don't think you should revise it any more. Remember, the best is the enemy of the good. In fundraising as in other areas, the best is the enemy of the good. If you ask someone for a larger contribution than he can possibly give, he may give you nothing at all.
See also: enemy, good, of

The good is the enemy of the best.

Prov. Instead of making things the best that they can, people often settle for making them merely good. Mother: Aren't you going to rewrite your paper? Child: Why? It's good enough. Mother: The good is the enemy of the best.
See also: enemy, good, of

I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

 and I wouldn't wish that on a dog.
Fig. I would not wish that to happen to even the worst or lowliest person. A skunk sprayed him! I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. What a hideous disease! I wouldn't wish that on a dog.
See also: enemy, on, wish, worst

*one's own worst enemy

Fig. consistently causing oneself to fail; more harmful to oneself than other people are. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) Ellen: My boss is my enemy. She never says anything good about me. Jane: Ellen, you're your own worst enemy. If you did your job responsibly, your boss would be nicer.
See also: enemy, worst

your own worst enemy

doing things yourself that prevent you from being liked or successful As a young player, Michael was his own worst enemy, arguing with the coach and other players and generally being unpleasant.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form its own worst enemy, referring to something: The company has made a number of bad decisions that have made it its own worst enemy.
See also: enemy, worst

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  (humorous)
something that you say when someone you thought was your friend treats you in an unpleasant way He told my girlfriend I was boring. With friends like that, who needs enemies!
See also: friend, like, needs, who

be your own worst enemy

if you are your own worst enemy, you do or believe things that prevent you from becoming successful Unless he learns to be more confident, he'll never get a decent job. He's his own worst enemy.
See also: enemy, worst

public enemy number one

someone or something that many people do not like or approve of Inflation has been public enemy number one for this government.
See also: enemy, number, one, public

I/You wouldn't wish something on my/your worst enemy.

something that you say in order to emphasize that something is extremely unpleasant The effects of this disease are horrible. You wouldn't wish them on your worst enemy.
See also: enemy, on, wish, worst
References in classic literature ?
In this time the enemy began to undermine our fort, which was situated sixty yards from Kentucke river.
We killed of the enemy thirty-seven, and wounded a great number.
The assassins comprehended that if they fled toward the camp without having killed their man, they should be accused by him; therefore their first idea was to join the enemy.
And with a light step, an eye on the watch, observing the movements of the enemy and taking advantage of the accidents of the ground, D'Artagnan succeeded in reaching the second soldier.
They were breath- lessly intent upon keeping the ground and thrust- ing away the rejoicing body of the enemy.
The enemy was marching upon Lens, with the intention, doubtless, of securing possession of that town and separating from France the army of France.
To-morrow, according to all probability, we shall attack the enemy.
By this time they were moving at high speed so that they presented a difficult target for the enemy.
From my position on the deck beside Kantos Kan I saw ship after ship of the enemy take the awful, sickening dive which proclaims its total destruction.
Finally they set out upon a determined search of the forest, but the blacks melted before them, so that they saw no sign of an enemy.
But worse than all else was the hideous fact that not once during the morning had they seen or heard the slightest sign of an enemy other than the pitiless arrows.
Magnified by its lift against the sky and by the soldier's testifying sense of the formidableness of a near enemy, the group appeared of heroic, almost colossal, size.
And in what sort of actions or with a view to what result is the just man most able to do harm to his enemy and good to his friends?
Your enemy shall ye seek; your war shall ye wage, and for the sake of your thoughts
But when he saw the signs of a truce, though deeply practised in the treachery of savage combats, he disdained to show a less manly reliance on himself, than that which his enemy had seen fit to exhibit.