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

Synonyms & Antonyms for comity



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"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 an early documented appearance of comity—a word derived from Latin cōmitās, meaning "friendliness, courtesy, or graciousness." Comity is largely used in political and judicial contexts. Since 1804, 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 easy response would be to offer a message of comity and universality. Andrew Yang, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021 There are signs, for instance, that trust in institutions continues to fade and comity is a fleeting commodity. Philip Elliott, Time, 10 Sep. 2021 Some would suggest Collins is a throwback to a bygone era of bipartisan comity. Charlie Dent, CNN, 3 Apr. 2022 The comity is a switch from Friday when McDonald announced involuntary manslaughter charges against James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the defendant in the shooting at the school on Nov. 30. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, 7 Dec. 2021 Democratic leadership, almost all of whom came of age in a time of bipartisan comity and collaboration that couldn't be more dead, has alternately pandered to and cultivated this delusional belief. Ryan Cooper, The Week, 19 Nov. 2021 And like the Senate where Breyer used to work, the court now has less room for compromise and comity. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN, 26 Jan. 2022 And as Tokayev moves against Nazarbayev’s remaining power base, Nazarbayev’s legacy has transformed from a fantasy of domestic comity and stability to one far closer to reality. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 12 Jan. 2022 Progressive activists who are looking at Washington and questioning whether the Beltway wisdom of moderation, compromise and comity makes sense in Richmond. Philip Elliott, Time, 8 June 2021 See More

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.

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

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Comity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for comity


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

Britannica English: Translation of comity for Arabic Speakers


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