Expression "From within"


Now I’m trying to learn from within :slight_smile:

the door opens from within - it’s quite simple. OK.

  1. internal enemies” vs “enemies from within” – is there any difference in meaning?

Any woman can be beautiful, if she is beautiful from within. vs “…. if she is beautiful inside.” - …?

  1. Can I use the expression generally when describing something (a system, an organism) with some internal dynamics, for example, a process or unstable situation in a country called/caused by some internal reasons?
    Something like ‘A country is about to explode from within’ ?

Hi Tamara,

Within is bandied about a lot these days especially with the use of the expression the ‘enemy within’ particularly with reference to alleged terrorists who are apparently living normal lives in society and nobody suspects that they are really working against that society. I would say that the difference between the internal enemy and the enemy within is that internal all right does mean inside but within also means inside but, and here is the difference, it is an enemy that you don’t notice because this enemy is indistinguishable from the rest of us. This person is some kind of mole. Let me give you an example of an event I read about last week in Berlin. There was a group of people trying to dig a tunnel under the wall to escape to west Berlin. Everything went well/swimmingly until they emerged the other side where the secret police were waiting for them. Their plot had been exposed by one of their number who had pretended to be one of them but in fact was a ‘mole’ who was working for the East German authorities and was indeed the enemy within.


Hi Alan

If I understood your post right, we would best use the expression ‘from within’ for a so-called ‘a fifth column’. (When speaking about enemies :))

OK. Thanks.

Hi Tamara,

It really depends which way you look at it or consider it. As I said, the enemy within is usual. We could also use the man within (that is also the name of a novel by Graham Greene who incidentally was born and went to school in Hertfordshire) and that means the inner man as in contrast to the outside appearance. If you use from within, this suggests the idea of coming out from the inside. You could use that figuratively as in deep feelings coming fom within a person or literally as in: The Speaker of the House of Commons is elected from within the membership of the House, regardless of their party allegiance.


Alan, I’ve got it!

As I’m a woman, the simplest example that has easily helped me to get the expression in my active vocabulary (I hope so) was - not with ‘the enemy from within’ :slight_smile: -
but with delivery of a child.

Thank you for your patience!..

P.S. Graham Greene is well known and respected in Russia.
I’ve read his ‘spy’ stories (in translation) and am still going to read ‘The Quiet American’… in its source language…

P.P.S. In SU such a writer would be surely considered as a dissident…

What a coincidence!Tamara, I’m just reading ‘The Quiet American’ in original. I guess you’re viewing me via web-camera now, right?


Hi, Pamela!

I’d decided to read the book a bit earlier than would get a chance to spy on you while you’re reading at your PC. :slight_smile:
By the way, my web-camera is now (temporarily) out of order (due to recent my son’s experiments with its driver :slight_smile: )