We have "best friends" and "close friends", because you give first importance to them. Like that, what should I call an enemy who is first enemy? I.e. you want to hurt him most then the rest of your enemies. What should we call them?

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    Best Friend antonym is Worst Enemy. – Ben Aug 13 '14 at 8:40

As per Wikipedia, an archenemy, archfoe, archvillain, or nemesis is the principal enemy of someone or something. In vernacular English, archenemy and nemesis are the two from the four above that are actually used commonly.

There's no single English word to describe the single most important enemy in which case you need to combine two words:

  • Primary Adversary
  • Main Opponent
  • Sole Archenemy or Sole Nemesis

Note to the OP: While archenemy has no friendly connotation, nemesis can also be used to refer to friendly rivalry.

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    Not a criticism but note that all of these, apart from the last, sound rather superhero-comic. I doubt you'd refer to an "archenemy" or "archfoe" of some historical king, for example. – David Richerby Aug 13 '14 at 8:03
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    @DavidRicherby Agree, the two primary words used commonly in vernacular are archenemy and nemesis. – K - Aug 13 '14 at 8:21
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    arch-rival is also used a lot in newspapers, an etymological note on nemesis too; the word started as the ancient Greek for a spirit of divine retribution - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_(mythology) – MD-Tech Aug 13 '14 at 9:39
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    There's also archnemesis. – David Richerby Aug 13 '14 at 12:16

The idiomatic opposite of Best Friend is Worst Enemy.

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    I would say to not use this, because "worst enemy" is ambiguous. Is your worst enemy the enemy that is worst for you, or worst at being an enemy. – The Guy with The Hat Aug 13 '14 at 11:54
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    @TheGuywithTheHat, Idiomatically, it means the former, and is never used as the latter except maybe as a joke. – Ben Aug 13 '14 at 12:14
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    @TheGuywithTheHat It's not ambiguous at all. The person who is worst at being my enemy is my best friend and, if I wanted to talk about that person, I'd say "best friend". Therefore, it's reasonable to infer that, when anybody other than Amelia Bedelia says "worst enemy", they mean their archnemesis. – David Richerby Aug 13 '14 at 12:15
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    @DavidRicherby Counterexample: Person1: "Did you see [movie]? [badguy] really sucked!" Person2: "Yeah, [badguy] is like, the worst enemy ever!" – Benubird Aug 13 '14 at 13:50
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    @DavidRicherby Yes, that makes more sense then. I think the distinction between "my worst enemy" and "the worst enemy" is worth making, as it really changes the possible interpretations. – Benubird Aug 13 '14 at 14:02

You are probably referring to an arch-enemy (archenemy):

  • a principal enemy

Examples of arch-enemy:

  • The two politicians were archenemies.

  • The country went to war with its archenemy.


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I suppose you could use sworn enemy per CALD:

sworn enemy: Sworn enemies are people who will always hate each other.

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