Etymology: A portmanteau of the words “friend” and “enemy,” frenemy is thought to have been coined in 1953 when American gossip columnist Walter Winchell suggested applying it to the fraught relationship between Russia and the United States. Meaning: Have you ever spent the day with an acquaintance only to feel oddly deflated on the ride home? Or found yourself blindsided in the workplace by a smiling colleague delivering a scorpion-tailed remark? Scan your body to see whether you’re experiencing the telltale symptoms—racing heart, flushed face, urge to strangle this person—brought on by the presence of a chum whose intentions are distinctly un-chummy. Perhaps the diagnosis will come back affirmative: Here stands a frenemy. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-six Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 45 Word: Explication An explanation to end all explanations. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Word: Anecdata Fact, meet fiction. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Word: Knolling The fascinating history of the flat lay. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Word: Hyperobject A word for things too huge to name. Arts & Culture Word: Negentropy A physicist’s fix for a messy home. Arts & Culture Issue 40 My Word In praise of cursing.