hos·​tile | \ˈhä-stᵊl, -ˌstī(-ə)l \

Definition of hostile 

1a : of or relating to an enemy hostile fire

b : marked by malevolence : having or showing unfriendly feelings a hostile act

c : openly opposed or resisting a hostile critic hostile to new ideas

d(1) : not hospitable plants growing in a hostile environment

(2) : having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature a hostile workplace

2a : of or relating to the opposing party in a legal controversy a hostile witness

b : adverse to the interests of a property owner or corporation management a hostile takeover

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Other Words from hostile

hostile noun
hostilely \ ˈhä-​stᵊl-​(l)ē , -​ˌstī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb

Examples of hostile in a Sentence

Dugoni, a lawyer who coauthored a nonfiction book about an Idaho worker brain-damaged in 1996 by cyanide fumes, opens his debut novel with a wrongful death attorney in San Francisco, David Sloane, about to make his closing remarks defending a corporation in a similar case. Sloane, who has won 14 cases in a row, hates his arrogant client and must face an obviously hostile jury. Publishers Weekly, 9 Jan. 2006 Relations with neighboring societies may be intermittently or chronically hostile. A society may be able to hold off its enemies as long as it is strong, only to succumb when it becomes weakened for any reason, including environmental damage. — Jared M. Diamond, Collapse, 2005 I do not want a hostile relationship with my surgeon. But it's obvious he's pigeonholed me into the last of the four patient categories that doctors use when writing a case history: young, middle-aged, senior, elderly. — Sylvia Simmons, Newsweek, 10 June 2002 Even when one is inside a climate-controlled spacecraft, sheltered from the deadly vacuum outside, space is a hostile setting. Terrestrial organisms venturing off the planet face a number of threats, chief among them cosmic radiation and the near absence of gravity. — Kenneth S. Kosik, Air & Space, June/July 2001 Lotus Development Corp. succumbed to a sweetened offer of $3.52 billion, or $64 a share, from International Business Machines Corp. in one of the fastest capitulations ever in a hostile takeover. A marathon week of negotiations, which began shortly after IBM unveiled a surprise bid of $60 a share for Lotus last Monday, ended yesterday with the signing of a definitive agreement. — Laurie Hays et al., Wall Street Journal, 12 June 1995 While the stereotype of the tortured artist brooding alone in a drafty garret may be an exaggeration, artists of all kinds—painters, musicians, poets, singers—often find themselves struggling to cope in a … world downright hostile to their work. Financial hardships, loneliness, family members who nag them to get "real" jobs, and their own self-destructive attitudes and habits can block creativity and prevent artists from pursuing their vision. New Age Journal, Winter 1995 They were entering hostile territory. Her suggestions were given a hostile reception. It was a small town that was hostile to outsiders. The camel is specially adapted to its hostile desert habitat.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Instead, the device appears to be an anti-satellite weapon, designed to blind sensitive optics and other sensors aboard a hostile spacecraft that dared to approach the Soviet orbiter. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "The Soviet Laser Space Pistol, Revealed," 14 June 2018 Sunday's Game 4 was once again an intense, physical test in a hostile environment. Chris Fedor,, "Cleveland Cavaliers keep their composure, play like a true team in must-win Game 4: Chris Fedor," 23 Apr. 2018 He was met with a political machine deeply hostile to his efforts, and eventually left with only a mealy-mouthed commitment from the Chicago Real Estate Board to implement open housing practices. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "HBO’s King in the Wilderness Takes On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Act," 30 Mar. 2018 But investors questioned the logic of the move for Broadcom, the acquisitive chip maker that had a mammoth hostile bid for Qualcomm Inc. blocked earlier this year by President Donald Trump. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "The Score: The Business Week in 7 Stocks," 13 July 2018 Earlier this year Broadcom’s hostile bid for Qualcomm, another chipmaker, was blocked by the White House. The Economist, "Business this week," 12 July 2018 That hostile takeover bid was blocked in March by the U.S government on national-security grounds. Fortune, "Broadcom to Buy CA Technologies for $19 Billion," 11 July 2018 Coming on the heels of two other massive takeovers, the hostile bid was seen as part of the hollowing out of Canada’s mineral sector. Danielle Bochove,, "Trump’s Trade War Looms Over a Canadian Town Built to Supply America," 28 June 2018 Ferro, who previously owned the Chicago Sun-Times, was in the midst of fending off a hostile takeover bid from Gannett when the name, which stood for Tribune Online Content, was introduced to widespread ridicule. Robert Channick,, "Tronc completes LA Times sale, may change corporate name," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hostile.' 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 hostile

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hostile

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin hostilis, from hostis

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Statistics for hostile

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hostile

The first known use of hostile was in 1580

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More Definitions for hostile



English Language Learners Definition of hostile

: of or relating to an enemy

: not friendly : having or showing unfriendly feelings

: unpleasant or harsh


hos·​tile | \ˈhä-stᵊl \

Kids Definition of hostile

1 : belonging to or relating to an enemy They entered hostile territory.

2 : unfriendly sense 1 He moved to get away from hostile neighbors.



Legal Definition of hostile 

1 : having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature a hostile work environment

2a : of or relating to an opposing party in a legal action a hostile claim

b : adverse to the interests of a party to a legal action if the interests of the party joined involuntarily render him hostile to the original plaintiff, he must remain a defendant— J. H. Friedenthal et al.

3a : adverse to or incompatible with the interests of a property owner a hostile use — see also adverse possession at possession, easement by prescription at easement, prescription sense 1

b : unwelcome by or contrary to the interests of corporate stockholders or management a hostile takeover bid

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Comments on hostile

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