co·​mi·​ty ˈkä-mə-tē How to pronounce comity (audio) ˈkō- How to pronounce comity (audio)
plural comities
: friendly social atmosphere : social harmony
group activities promoting comity
bipartisan comity in the Senate
: a loose widespread community based on common social institutions
the comity of civilization
: comity of nations
trans-Atlantic comity
: the informal and voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another
: avoidance of proselytizing members of another religious denomination

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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 And the comity that once pervaded Google’s workforce was frayed. Steven Levy, WIRED, 11 Sep. 2023 An image of democratic dysfunction—the ripping off of the façade of comity and efficiency to reveal the chaotic impulses underneath. TIME, 9 Jan. 2024 While the debates thus far have helped move some of the candidates' polling numbers, they have mostly been characterized by shouting matches and moderators struggling to restore anything remotely resembling comity on stage. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 8 Nov. 2023 Teaneck’s comity was publicly ripped apart last month after contentious municipal meetings exposed broad disagreements over how township leaders should talk about and memorialize what is happening in the Middle East. Tim Craig, Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2023 Sean Bennett, a state senator who graduated from Stall a couple of years after Scott, told me that Scott set a good example for how white and Black students could find some comity. Robert Samuels, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2023 And that might be the biggest divide inside the current Republican Party: Far-right conservatives who appear to put protest and performance art above all else, versus fellow conservatives who can at least demonstrate deal-making and political comity in a divided government. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 4 Jan. 2023 The lack of comity between the political parties means the cap is likely to remain a political tool, with no guarantee that a compromise will always be reached. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, 2 Aug. 2023 How to convince them that comity is preferable to repression, and that a belief in magic is better than faith? Sam Sacks, WSJ, 3 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'comity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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."

First Known Use

1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of comity was in 1543


Dictionary Entries Near comity

Cite this Entry

“Comity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


co·​mi·​ty ˈkäm-ət-ē How to pronounce comity (audio) ˈkō-mət- How to pronounce comity (audio)
plural comities
: courteous behavior : civility

Legal Definition


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

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