hos·​til·​i·​ty | \ hä-ˈsti-lə-tē How to pronounce hostility (audio) \
plural hostilities

Definition of hostility

1a : deep-seated usually mutual ill will glad to have gotten through the divorce proceedings without any visible signs of hostility showed open hostility toward outsiders
b(1) : hostile action the Spanish expedition encountered hostility … and was forced to flee— R. W. Murray
(2) hostilities plural : overt acts of warfare : war Peace talks were stalled after recent hostilities.
2 : conflict, opposition, or resistance in thought or principle there was tension, there was hostility and envy in the air— Theodor Reik

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Choose the Right Synonym for hostility

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 hostility in a Sentence

They were both glad to have gotten through the divorce proceedings without any visible signs of hostility. The townspeople showed open hostility to outsiders. Peace talks were stalled after recent hostilities. Both sides are calling for a cessation of hostilities.
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Recent Examples on the Web Many of the Republican poll watchers detected hostility from the election workers, perhaps because the Republicans were assiduously noting which of them were wearing Black Lives Matter face masks. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "The Real Republican Radicals," 31 Dec. 2020 Both petitions already have faced hostility from state Attorney General Ashley Moody and skepticism from GOP legislators in Tallahassee, who held hearings last year on the potential dangers of pot legalization. Steven Lemongello,, "Legalize marijuana campaigns in Florida are moving ahead. But will politicians back recreational pot?," 26 Dec. 2020 More than 5 million people have fled the South American country in recent years, escaping unrelenting economic convulsions punctuated with gang violence, power failures, widespread food shortages and the left-wing government’s hostility to dissent. Alex Vasquez,, "Biden to Seek Talks With Maduro Regime in Reversal of Trump Plan," 18 Dec. 2020 As the experiment highlights, hostility is hard to sustain in the flesh. Samantha Boardman, WSJ, "A Divided Nation: One Psychiatrist’s Advice on Lowering the Temperature," 15 Dec. 2020 Hoon Lee, Banshee, Iron Fist) who seek to play both sides, deliberately fostering hostility between the tongs for fun and profit. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "All-out war breaks out in San Francisco’s Chinatown in Warrior S2 finale," 4 Dec. 2020 Because federal enforcement actions will face hostility from the federal bench, states will need to be vigilant and aggressive. Star Tribune, "Four ways progressive states can respond to conservative courts," 17 Nov. 2020 With the Senate apparently remaining in the hands of Republicans, whose hostility to the law is manifest, that’s not likely to happen before the court rules. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: The Supreme Court Obamacare case centers on technicalities, but much more is at stake," 10 Nov. 2020 Justice Alito said that Philadelphia had exhibited hostility to the Catholic agency’s views. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Supreme Court Weighs Legacy of Same-Sex Marriage Case," 4 Nov. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hostility

Middle English hostilite, hostilitie, borrowed from Late Latin hostīlitāt-, hostīlitās, from Latin hostīlis "of an enemy, hostile" + -itāt-, -itās -ity

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Time Traveler for hostility

Time Traveler

The first known use of hostility was in the 15th century

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Statistics for hostility

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hostility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for hostility


How to pronounce hostility (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hostility

: an unfriendly or hostile state, attitude, or action
formal : acts of fighting in a war


hos·​til·​i·​ty | \ hä-ˈsti-lə-tē How to pronounce hostility (audio) \
plural hostilities

Kids Definition of hostility

1 : an unfriendly or hostile state, attitude, or action They showed no hostility toward strangers.
2 hostilities plural : acts of warfare


hos·​til·​i·​ty | \ hä-ˈstil-ət-ē How to pronounce hostility (audio) \
plural hostilities

Medical Definition of hostility

: conflict, opposition, or resistance in thought or principle

Other Words from hostility

hostile \ ˈhäs-​tᵊl How to pronounce hostility (audio) , -​ˌtīl How to pronounce hostility (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on hostility

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