en·​mi·​ty ˈen-mə-tē How to pronounce enmity (audio)
plural enmities
: positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will

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Enmity and its synonyms "hostility," animosity, and animus all indicate deep-seated dislike or ill will. Enmity (which derives from an Anglo-French word meaning "enemy") suggests true hatred, either overt or concealed. Hostility implies strong, open enmity that shows itself in attacks or aggression. Animosity carries the sense of anger, vindictiveness, and sometimes the desire to destroy what one hates. Animus is generally less violent than animosity, but definitely conveys active prejudice or ill will.

Choose the Right Synonym for enmity

enmity, hostility, antipathy, antagonism, animosity, rancor, animus mean deep-seated dislike or ill will.

enmity suggests positive hatred which may be open or concealed.

an unspoken enmity

hostility suggests an enmity showing itself in attacks or aggression.

hostility between the two nations

antipathy and antagonism imply a natural or logical basis for one's hatred or dislike, antipathy suggesting repugnance, a desire to avoid or reject, and antagonism suggesting a clash of temperaments leading readily to hostility.

a natural antipathy for self-seekers
antagonism between the brothers

animosity suggests intense ill will and vindictiveness that threaten to kindle hostility.

animosity that led to revenge

rancor is especially applied to bitter brooding over a wrong.

rancor filled every line of his letters

animus adds to animosity the implication of strong prejudice.

objections devoid of personal animus

Examples of enmity in a Sentence

Bin Laden may no longer be supplying directions and funding, but his ethos of enmity lives on. Michael Hirsh et al., Newsweek, 10 June 2002
What has earned her the enmity of so many peers is her indiscriminate outspokenness. Karen Springer, Newsweek, 10 June 1996
Battles over slavery in the territories broke the second party system apart and then shaped a realigned system that emphasized sectional enmity. Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, 1988
There's a long history of enmity between them. His comments earned him the enmity of his coworkers. We need to put aside old enmities for the sake of peace. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Once their trust was broken, their enmity grew stronger even than their desire to succeed. Indrani Sen, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2024 Standing atop a hill, moving his arm just a few degrees, Mr. Najm points out Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, all visible, but separated from Beit Jann by enmity, borders, and politics. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Jan. 2024 In recent decades, the reunification of the two Koreas has become increasingly unlikely as the economic gap between them widened and mutual enmity deepened. Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 His expansion of Jewish settlements — condemned by many nations as a violation of international law — has increased enmity and given anyone living in Gaza or the West Bank little hope for a two-state solution. Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Like Frederick Douglass after the Civil War, working doggedly within the Republican Party, and earning the enmity of the remaining radicals for doing so, Rustin, after the heyday of the civil-rights movement, worked doggedly within the Democratic Party, earning the enmity of his time’s radicals. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 The young Andreessen struck me as supremely self-confident and a very fast talker, earning the permanent enmity of my transcriptionist. WIRED, 20 Oct. 2023 These include deep enmity between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, and an Israeli government that has shown no interest for many years in restarting peace talks. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2023 The police filed a complaint against Hindutva Watch, under the penal code, for spreading enmity between the Hindu and Mulim communities. Parth M.n., Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English enmite, from Anglo-French enemité, enemisté, from enemi enemy

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of enmity was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near enmity

Cite this Entry

“Enmity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enmity. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​mi·​ty ˈen-mət-ē How to pronounce enmity (audio)
plural enmities
: a very deep unfriendly feeling : hatred

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