co·​mi·​ty | \ˈkä-mə-tē, ˈkō- \
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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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 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 All Americans would then march hand-in-hand toward a nirvana of permanent comity. Michael Hiltzik,, "The Red Hen Affair: Demands for 'civility' are almost always aimed at shutting down free speech," 25 June 2018 All of that had real advantages: Congress was, for much of the past century, a place of remarkable comity, where politicians routinely struck compromises on public spending or judicial appointments. Yascha Mounk, The New Yorker, "The Rise of McPolitics," 12 Jan. 2015 But there are also political attitudes in rural Georgia, and ways of expressing them, that stand in stark contrast to a capital city that has long offered itself to the world as a beacon of racial comity. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "There Are Two Georgias. One Just Made History.," 23 May 2018 The US Senate is – or was – strongly associated with ideals of comity. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "Can comity and Comey coexist?," 3 May 2018 There are celebrities who are cultural disruptors, who force dissension and discussion — think Muhammad Ali in the 1960s — and there are those who are cultural resolvers, bringing disparate audiences into one big tent of comity and comfort. Ty Burr,, "There’s no separating Cosby’s legacy as a symbol of unity and the face of evil," 27 Apr. 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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The first known use of comity was in 1543

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co·​mi·​ty | \ˈkä-mə-tē, ˈkō- \

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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