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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for comity



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 displays of comity have since given way to a physical and emotional hollowness. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Chauvin trial: Why Minneapolis activists are looking beyond the verdict," 30 Mar. 2021 Cotton's faux concern for comity was merely an excuse to oppose Colin Kahl's nomination as undersecretary of defense for policy. Arkansas Online, "Cotton off base on tweets," 13 Mar. 2021 Recall how, early in George W. Bush’s presidency, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused a period of comity. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "A Year of Living With Covid," 10 Mar. 2021 None of us have served one minute in the Senate that was completely drained of comity and consent. Mitch Mcconnell, WSJ, "The Scorched-Earth Senate," 17 Mar. 2021 Americans could then march hand-in-hand toward a nirvana of permanent comity. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Neera Tanden and the ‘civility’ scam," 24 Feb. 2021 Even so, despite all the talk of comity and common ground, the White House came back with its bottom line after all had gone home. New York Times, "Republicans Pitch Biden on Smaller Aid Plan as Democrats Prepare to Act Alone," 1 Feb. 2021 The bar for presidential behavior has been brought so low, just the normalcy of the inauguration — its music, its comity, its gratitude, its humility — was enough to prompt tears of gratitude. Yvonne Abraham,, "Words have power," 20 Jan. 2021 Having run on healing and comity and dealing fairly with Republicans, almost any accurate description of Republican behavior, actions, and recent history suddenly looks like a violation of that spirit of unity. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "Jen O’Malley Dillon Fell Into Joe Biden’s Unity Trap," 18 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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."

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about comity

Listen to Our Podcast about comity

Statistics for comity

Last Updated

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Comity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comity

Britannica English: Translation of comity for Arabic Speakers

Comments on comity

What made you want to look up comity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!