Sherlock Holmes wrestling against archenemy Professor Moriarty.

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


The word archenemy sometimes spelled as 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 an archrival,[4] archfoe,[5] archvillain,[6] or archnemesis.[7] However, an archenemy may also be distinguished from a nemesis, with the latter being an enemy whom the hero cannot defeat (or who defeats the hero), even while not being a longstanding or consistent enemy to the hero.[8]

See also


  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.
  4. ^ "Definition of ARCHRIVAL". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Definition of ARCHFOE".
  6. ^ "Definition of ARCHVILLAIN". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Definition of ARCHNEMESIS".
  8. ^ Sage Michael, How to Become a Superhero: the Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate You! (2011), p. 228.