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From Middle English witherwinne, from Old English wiþerwinna (opponent, rival, adversary, enemy), equivalent to wither- (against) +‎ win (to struggle). Cognate with Old High German widarwinno.


witherwin (plural witherwins)

  1. (rare) An opponent; rival; adversary; enemy; (Christianity) the Adversary; the Devil.
    • c. 1480, St. Mary Magdalen 246 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) I. 263:
      How þe ded he tholyt syne, to safe ws fra þe wethirwyne.
    • 2012, Hampton Roads Republican US Senate Debate Summary:
      Jamie Radtke, the first to make opening statements, emerged from her podium immediately as an aggressor against George Allen–her intraparty arch-nemesis–repeating amidst his own supporters her oft-made attacks against Allen’s public record. She was not as demure as she was in Roanoke; she seemed at the beginning rather like she felt more comfortable in the oceanic atmosphere harpooning her opponent. Indeed, at times, it seemed she was Ahab and the witherwin Allen was her Moby Dick; but while she sails her Pequod just as intently toward a singular goal, her alastor is much less clear and she bears no visible scars of a cetacean attacker.