co·​mi·​ty | \ ˈkä-mə-tē How to pronounce comity (audio) , ˈkō- How to pronounce comity (audio) \
plural comities

Definition of comity

1a : friendly social atmosphere : social harmony group activities promoting comity bipartisan comity in the Senate
b : a loose widespread community based on common social institutions the comity of civilization
c : comity of nations trans-Atlantic comity
d : the informal and voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another
2 : avoidance of proselytizing members of another religious denomination

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Synonyms & Antonyms for comity


chime, compatibility, concord, harmony, peace


conflict, discord, dissension (also dissention), variance

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Did You Know?

Our country soweth also in the field of our breasts many precious seeds, as … honest behavior, affability, comity, wrote English clergyman Thomas Becon in 1543. Becon's use is the earliest documented appearance of comity - a word derived from Latin comitas, meaning "courteousness" (and probably related to the Sanskrit word for "he smiles"). Comity is largely used in political and judicial contexts. Since 1862 comity of nations has referred to countries bound by a courteous relationship based on mutual recognition of executive, legislative, and judicial acts. And, in legal contexts, comity refers to the recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another.

Examples of comity in a Sentence

the comity that has always existed among the town's houses of worship

Recent Examples on the Web

The decision is the result of a gradual shift away from aggressive and conservative politics inside the deep-pocketed donor network and one more toward comity and compromise. Philip Elliott, Time, "Coming Soon to a Democratic Primary: Candidates Backed By Charles Koch," 7 June 2019 With that change, two years of relative comity between the agencies ended, just a few months into the tenure of Mr. O’Neill, who had succeeded William J. Bratton as commissioner. New York Times, "Police, at Odds with Oversight Board, Reject More of Its Penalties," 12 Apr. 2018 Why has the momentum toward democracy and international comity slowed? Sheri Berman, New York Times, "Can It Happen Here? Madeleine Albright Examines Fascism Then and Now," 20 Apr. 2018 States say hefty legal judgments could impair public services, but courts often dismiss lawsuits or reduce penalties against other states to preserve comity. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A California-Nevada Tax Brawl," 8 Jan. 2019 In the spirit of comity, Nevada’s Supreme Court tossed several claims and punitive damages but affirmed a $1 million judgment for others. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A California-Nevada Tax Brawl," 8 Jan. 2019 The newfound comity, however, springs as much from economic exhaustion as from each leaders’ respective reckonings with longevity. Geoffrey Mohan,, "How California's farm labor shortage made friends of old rivals," 6 July 2018 Such apparent comity hasn’t stopped film scholars from poking around their relationship. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema’ Review: Creative Currents," 5 May 2018 The court’s 2017-18 term began tentatively and with comity, as the justices continued to find their place on a new-look court that included Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Mr. Trump nominated last year. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "End of Supreme Court Term Finds Conservatives in Command," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comity.' 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 comity

1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for comity

borrowed from Latin cōmitāt-, cōmitās "friendliness, courtesy, graciousness," from cōmis "kind, obliging, gracious" (probably going back to Old Latin cosmis, of uncertain origin) + -itāt- -itās -ity

Note: The Latin word cōmis (Old Latin cosmis, assuming that this word in the Duenos Inscription has been correctly identified) has traditionally been analyzed as *co-smei̯- "draw one's face into a smile," with the Indo-European base *smei̯- "laugh, smile" (see smile entry 1)—though a derivational mechanism for turning such a verbal compound into an unsuffixed adjective is left unspecified. An alternative explanation as a denominal adjective "having/accompanied by a smile" is possible (of the compound type represented by Greek éntheos "full of/possessed by a deity"), though there is no Indo-European evidence for a corresponding noun *smi- "smile."

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comity of nations



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Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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The first known use of comity was in 1543

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co·​mi·​ty | \ ˈkä-mə-tē, ˈkō- How to pronounce comity (audio) \

Legal Definition of comity

2 : the informal and voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another

called also judicial comity

— compare choice of law, federalism, full faith and credit

More from Merriam-Webster on comity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comity

Britannica English: Translation of comity for Arabic Speakers

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behavior toward others

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