“Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer” – Its Meaning, Origin & Usage

What does it mean to say ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’? Is it really possible to become friends with someone who has hurt or offended you?

The word ‘enemy’ comes from the Latin word enim, meaning ‘against’. In English, it means someone who is against us or our interests. For example, an enemy might be a person who wants to harm us physically or emotionally.

Today, we’ll be diving into the definition of ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’ and provide examples of the phrase itself to help you understand, including sentences containing ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’.

What Is The Meaning Of ‘Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer’?

The phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemy closer,” is often used in situations where you want to convey that you don’t trust someone.

This can be because you’re afraid they’ll hurt you, or because you think they might turn against you. When you say it, you’re telling others that you won’t let yourself be fooled again.

The expression “keep your friends close and your enemy closer” came about because it was believed that the Mafia kept their closest allies near them and had their enemies watched closely. 

This meant that they knew what their enemies were doing, and could act accordingly.

However, the expression doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. For example, some people might say that they keep their enemies closer because they are afraid of losing someone important to them.

Examples Of ‘Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer’

‘Keeping up with what the enemy is doing in this battle will give us the upper hand, having an insider 24/7 with the enemy is an example of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer.’

‘I thought you didn’t like that group of people you’re hanging around with? Or are you keeping your enemies closer than your friends, kind of situation?’

‘I know they say keep your friends close but your enemies closer, but I never thought David would betray me like this. I guess it’s true what they say then.’

There are many examples of how you can use this phrase, and today we hope that some of ours can assist you in gathering ideas on how to use them! 

It’s an age-old phrase, and it’s likely that your friends and family around you will know the phrase if you were to ask or mention it in conversation.

What Other Ways Can You Say ‘Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer’?

You can use the phrase, “keep your friends close and…” when trying to tell people that you don’t trust anyone. For example, you might say, “Don’t ever trust anyone.” Or, “Never believe anything anyone tells you.”

If you’re talking about a friend, you might say, “…and never let him/her do something stupid like sell out your best interests.”

If you’re talking about an enemy, you might say, “…and never let him/ her get too close.” Or, “Never let him/her know what you really think.”

Origins Of The Phrase ‘Keep Your Friends Close But Your Enemies Closer’

Businesses often use the phrase “keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.” But exactly how did it come about? Experts aren’t sure.

Language experts are unsure of the origin of the phrase. However, it’s thought to originate from the 1970s era when businesses would create hostile takeovers. Companies would try to infiltrate one another’s management structure. This led to the creation of the phrase, according to some sources.

Some experts believe the first record comes from Mario Puzos’ “The Godfather part 2,” in which Michael Corleone talks about his father’s teachings.

He says, “I learned many things from my father. One thing he always told me was, ‘Never trust anyone.’ And I never have.”

How Can You Use The Phrase Correctly?

When you hear the phrase, “Keep your enemies closer,” you probably assume it’s referring to keeping your enemies away from you.

But it doesn’t always mean that. Sometimes, it refers to making sure that you don’t become an enemy to someone else.

For example, if you find out that one of your friends has been lying to you, you might decide to keep your distance from that person or, you may decide to stick close to them despite what they’ve done. You might even consider cutting off contact completely. 

Using the phrase correctly is important when mentioning it because it has a specific meaning in regards to friendships.

Final Thoughts

There are several ways you could use the phrase, “Keep Your Enemies Closer.” It’s not necessarily limited to business situations.

You could also use it in personal relationships. For example, you could say, “I’m going to keep my enemies closer so that I won’t be tempted to cheat on them.”

Or, you could say, “‘Cause I want to make sure I don’t hurt their feelings.”

Or, you could say, “Because I don’t want to lose my friendship with them.”

So, there are lots of different ways you could use the expression, “Keep Your Enemies Close.” So, why not try using it today?