ennemi intime


New Member
I have this expression "ennemi intime" to translate. The sentence says: "Les deux chefs d'etat, anciens ennemis intimes...."

Intimate ennemies seems too literal. Any better translation?
  • :) Welcome to the forum, JacquesA.

    Intimate enemy (one N) exists in English.

    I believe it's appropriate in your context.
    Indeed, it is in the international politics context: this is the summary

    Le president ivoirien, Laurent Gbagbo, et son ancien ami, le president Burkinabe Blaise Compaore devenu son ennemi intime....
    Mortal Enemies would surely be more fitting? I've never heard of "intimate enemies"! Sounds a bit...romantique

    "Mortal enemies" are more likely to wish death upon one another than might be "intimate" ones, who would, rather, have an indeed "romantique" stance, in the literary sense, whereby each would retain une rancune against the other, each would be a sort of trembling volcano with regard to others' commentaries concerning the ennemi. In politics, such people detest the power and the privilege granted the other. Extremely so... but not so that the one would wish the death of the other, je crois. Intimate enemies would know the intimate details, one of the other's life and loves; mortal enemies would have a walled-in grudge that would barricade them from such awareness of intimacy...
    I haven't heard of "intimate enemies," either; I'm sure it's been said, but it sounds very awkward to me, even oxymoronic.

    "Mortal enemies" can be used figuratively, in cases where one does not necessarily wish death upon the other. But "nemesis" may be your best bet.
    It is a more modern, informal term, but "frenemy," a friend for whom one has a fundamental dislike, comes to mind.