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An archenemy (sometimes spelled arch-enemy) is the main enemy of someone.[1][2][3] In fiction, it is a character who is the hero's or protagonist's most prominent and worst enemy.


The word archenemy or arch-enemy originated around the mid-16th century, from the words arch-[3] (from Greek ἄρχω archo meaning 'to lead') and enemy.[1]

An archenemy may also be referred to as archrival,[citation needed] archfoe,[4] archvillain,[5][better source needed] or archnemesis.[6] However, an archenemy may also be distinguished from a nemesis, with the latter being an enemy who the hero cannot defeat (or who defeats the hero), even while not being a longstanding or consistent enemy to the hero.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "archenemy definition". Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  2. ^ "archenemy – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  3. ^ a b Wicaksono, Rachel. "BBC World Service | Learning English | Ask about English". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
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  7. ^ Sage Michael, How to Become a Superhero: the Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate You! (2011), p. 228.