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

In the first scene, Dolores trilled a few keys before chatting with her newly hostile and homicidal lover, Teddy, about finally breaking out of their loop for good. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Westworld: From Cradle to Grave," 28 May 2018 Veteran lawyers and jury consultants say #MeToo could cut both ways for Cosby, making some potential jurors more hostile and others more likely to think men are being unfairly accused. CBS News, "Bill Cosby trial judge delivers defense 2 big victories," 3 Apr. 2018 As recently as 2007, trade unions and a large chunk of the party’s congressional wing were hostile to immigration reform. The Economist, "Fork in the roadShould the party move to the left or to the centre?," 12 July 2018 The employees were women and people of color who said they had been passed over for promotions and were paid less than other workers for doing the same job, and that managers had created a hostile work environment. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Uber’s HR chief steps down after reportedly ignoring racial discrimination complaints," 11 July 2018 The Wildcats then have to hope three road victories a year ago are enough experience to whether what is likely to be a hostile environment at Kyle Field. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How Kentucky football can win (or lose) against Texas A&M in 2018," 7 July 2018 Trump singled out Tester in April, saying the farmer from Big Sandy ‘‘will have a big price to pay’’ for releasing allegations against Jackson that included drunkenness, overprescribing medication and fostering a hostile work environment. Catherine Lucey And Matt Volz,, "Trump urges senator’s ouster at rally for Montana Republican," 5 July 2018 This fact, however, is known to the orca, an animal which is peculiarly hostile to the balæna, and the form of which cannot be in any way adequately described, but as an enormous mass of flesh armed with teeth. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Scientists admit Pliny the Elder was right about orcas and whales.," 11 July 2018 The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, saying that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had been hostile to the business owner’s faith. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: RFK’s speech in apartheid South Africa remains relevant 50 years after his assassination," 5 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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Phrases Related to hostile

hostile takeover

hostile witness

Statistics for hostile

Last Updated

13 Oct 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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