am·​i·​ty | \ ˈa-mə-tē How to pronounce amity (audio) \
plural amities

Definition of amity

: friendship especially : friendly relations between nations an era of international amity

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The Long History of Amity

Amity has been used in English to describe friendship or friendliness for well over 500 years. It is derived from the Latin word for "friend," amicus, and has come to be used especially for relationships between political leaders and nations in which goodwill is shown despite differences that might exist between the two parties. Amicus is also the root of the adjectives amiable and amicable. Amiable implies having qualities that make one liked and easy to deal with—for example, "The owners of the bed-and-breakfast were very amiable." Amicable is closer in meaning to amity: it implies friendliness and politeness with the desire to avoid disagreement and argument. A relationship between coworkers might be described as amicable. Other family members of amicus are the Spanish borrowing amigo ("friend") and the antonymous enemy, which developed from the Latin combination of the prefix in- ("not") with amicus.

Examples of amity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the racial amity that was his fondest hope remained a distant dream, and his lapses in responding to the Crown Heights crisis became an insurmountable legacy. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "David N. Dinkins, New York’s First Black Mayor, Dies at 93," 24 Nov. 2020 Amis has been called a bad boy for decades now, but so few who’ve written about him, whether in amity or discord, have bothered to notice the overriding imperative of his art: to be circumspect, to be generous, to be good-humored, to be kind. Tom Bissell, New York Times, "In Fiction, Martin Amis Summons His Literary Friends and Role Models," 26 Oct. 2020 The glamorization of modernism owed much to the aura of Allied triumph in the Second World War, which established so many other parameters of national amity that have lately, and rapidly, been crumbling. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Philip Guston and the Boundaries of Art Culture," 12 Oct. 2020 Such amity is only a lull, however, as these two groups work out the terms of a new relationship. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "The activist employee hasn’t gone away," 21 Sep. 2020 But any amity Hernandez built up with the gang all but collapsed after three days detailing robberies, assaults and drug crimes for a federal jury. Deanna Paul, Washington Post, "Tekashi 6ix9ine rose to fame as a rapper and gang member. Now he’s exiled as a ‘snitch.’," 23 Sep. 2019 So what Biden intends as a plea for political amity is actually an act of political cowardice. Leonard Pitts Jr - Miami Herald, The Mercury News, "Pitts: Democrats prioritizing returning us to ‘normal’ beyond naive," 3 Sep. 2019 Trump gambled that the show of amity could crack the nuclear logjam, underscoring his faith in the power of his own personal diplomacy — even with brutal strongmen like Kim — to achieve what past presidents could not. Michael Crowley,, "Trump steps into North Korea and agrees with Kim Jong Un to resume talks," 30 June 2019 More profound is the widespread amity and prosperity that have resulted. Jeffrey A. Engel, Twin Cities, "Jeffrey Engel: The lesson of D-Day for Americans today," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'amity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of amity

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for amity

Middle English amyte, amiste, borrowed from Anglo-French amité, amisté (earlier and continental Old French amistet, amistiet), going back to Vulgar Latin *amīcitāt-, *amīcitās, alteration (by substitution of the suffix -itāt-, -tās -ity), of Latin amīcitia, from amīcus "friendly, well-disposed" + -itia, suffix forming nouns from adjectives, extended form of -ia -ia entry 1 — more at amiable

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Time Traveler for amity

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The first known use of amity was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Amity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for amity


How to pronounce amity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of amity

formal : a feeling of friendship : friendly relations between nations or groups


am·​i·​ty | \ ˈa-mə-tē How to pronounce amity (audio) \

Kids Definition of amity

: a feeling of friendship amity between nations

More from Merriam-Webster on amity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for amity

Britannica English: Translation of amity for Arabic Speakers

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