Keep Your Enemies Close

The idiom "keep your enemies close" means to maintain a level of interaction or watchfulness over your adversaries to better anticipate their actions and prevent harm.

Keep Your Enemies Close: Meaning and Definitions

  • The phrase “keep your enemies close” is a strategic advice suggesting that one should stay aware of their adversaries’ actions to prevent harm.
  • It often implies that by maintaining a level of interaction with one’s enemies, one can anticipate their moves and plan accordingly.
  • This idiom is usually used in the context of political or business strategy, where maintaining relationships with opponents can provide an advantage.
  • It also signifies the wisdom in understanding your enemy’s perspective or methods, to better counteract them.
  • Furthermore, it may suggest that constant vigilance over one’s enemies can serve as a motivator to improve or succeed.

Keep Your Enemies Close Synonyms

  1. Be wary of your adversaries
  2. Monitor your foes
  3. Stay alert to your competitors

Example Sentences

  • Despite their rivalry, the two politicians decided to keep their enemies close to anticipate each other’s next move.
  • He always followed the principle of keeping his enemies close, as it helped him stay a step ahead in business.
  • Even though they were competitors, she decided to keep her enemy close and learn from his strategies.
  • To protect his kingdom, the wise king decided to keep his enemies close.
  • Keeping his enemies close allowed him to anticipate their actions and plan accordingly.

The Origins and Etymology of Keep Your Enemies Close

The phrase “keep your enemies close” is part of the longer saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

This saying is often attributed to Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War,” and sometimes to Niccolò Machiavelli, though there’s no definitive evidence to confirm these attributions.

The phrase was popularized in modern times by the film “The Godfather Part II.”

You can read more about it on Wiktionary.

douglas heingartner editor saywhatyo!
Douglas Heingartner

Douglas Heingartner, the editor of SayWhatYo!, is a journalist based in Amsterdam. He has written about science, technology, and more for publications including The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, the BBC, The Washington Post, New Scientist, The Associated Press, IEEE Spectrum, Quartz, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and others. His Google Scholar profile is here, his LinkedIn profile is here, and his Muck Rack profile is here.