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

While Biden was preaching comity, his rivals saw, at best, a racial insensitivity in citing a man who led the opposition against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall to become the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Philip Elliott, Time, "Joe Biden Keeps Stumbling. The Democratic Pile-On Is Just Getting Started.," 21 June 2019 The visual was of a man who looked out of place — by his own hand — at a moment of high formality and ceremony intended to convey comity. Washington Post, "Trump’s catastrophic fashion choices in England were not just a sign of bad taste," 6 June 2019 At a minimum, defeating the existential menace of the Trump movement means waking up, once and for all, from the many fatally compromised half-measures—and worse—that make up Joe Biden’s fond imaginings of bipartisan comity. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Destructive Politics of White Amnesia," 6 Aug. 2019 Creve Coeur argued that the doctrine of comity required the federal court back off on state taxation of commercial activity. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Netflix Sent to State Court to Fight Missouri Cities on Fees," 6 Aug. 2019 Traditional Washington comity largely obscured this weakness, since the White House would typically limit or scrap an arms deal if faced with enough congressional criticism. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "A Farewell to Arms Deals," 11 June 2019 Clearly, Trump is willing to put his short-term political goals above any sense of national cohesion or comity. Steven Greenhut, Orange County Register, "Trump blew a chance to follow in Reagan’s footsteps," 19 July 2019 In the absence of Palestinian and Israeli politicians who have been frustrating each other for decades, and with no risk of the event being packaged as a campaign rally for Netanyahu, who faces upcoming elections, dialogue and comity could grow. Fortune, "The Bahrain Conference: What the Experts and the Media Missed," 30 June 2019 Buttigieg also fluently speaks the language of Obama-style centrist comity. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "In search of the Democratic Party's fighting spirit," 20 June 2019

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

1 Oct 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

Comments on comity

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a topic to which one constantly reverts

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