repr. two distinct. Old English words: (1) the simple fáh, fág adj. ( < Old Germanic *faiho-); (2) the compound gefá n. (weak masculine), originally an absolute use of *gefáh adj. (not recorded as such) = Old High German gifêh at feud, odious (Middle High German gevêch, gevê) < Old Germanic *ga-faiho-, where the prefix imports the notion of ‘mutually’ (see y- prefix). As in many other nouns, the prefix ge-, i-, fell away in early Middle English, so that the compound n. and the absolute use of the simple adj. became coincident.
The Germanic adj. *faiho- (represented only in West Germanic) is referred to the Aryan root *peiq- poiq- piq-, whence Old Irish oech enemy ( < poiqos, Greek πικρός bitter, Lithuanian pìkta-s angry. The current statement that the word is etymologically akin to fiend n. depends on the doubtful hypothesis that the root *peiq- is an extension of *pei- to hate.
- b : adversary, opponent
- 3: one who opposes on principle <a foe of needless expenditures>
- 4: something prejudicial or injurious