hos·til·i·ty | \hä-ˈsti-lə-tē \
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

Stocks tanked Monday on word of escalating hostilities between the Trump administration and top trading partners in Europe and China. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Navarro stems stock sell-off by discounting trade war," 26 June 2018 After months of escalating trade tensions between Europe and the United States, the European Union's retaliatory tariffs took effect Friday, ushering in a new era of hostility between the Trump administration and some of America's closest allies. James Mcauley,, "EU trade tariffs take effect in latest rift between U.S. and its closest allies," 22 June 2018 Both leaders emerged agreeing to work toward a formal end to hostilities between North and South by the end of the year and the eventual denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Jonathan M. Pitts,, "Maryland Korean-Americans 'cautiously optimistic' as historic summit looms," 9 May 2018 In this context, the Broadcom deal’s scuttling stands as an escalation of hostilities between the two countries that some have compared to the beginning of the Cold War. Max Chafkin,, "Why America Is So Scared of China’s Biggest Tech Company," 22 Mar. 2018 Several months on and with a new CEO running things, the hostility toward a motorsport program had faded. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "7:57:148—Volkswagen makes racing history with record-breaking electric race car," 29 June 2018 On Monday the Supreme Court sided with the baker, ruling that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility towards his beliefs. Aubrey Nagle,, "Trump cancels Eagles celebration, Krasner wants list of tainted police | Morning Newsletter," 5 June 2018 Kennedy was an outspoken advocate for sending U.S. arms to Israel due to hostilities from neighboring Arab states. Cameron Knight,, "RFK assassination reporting: A list of unresolved conflicts," 5 June 2018 Each side has accused the other of starting the hostilities in violation of the 2003 accord. Aijaz Hussain, The Seattle Times, "India, Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir; 2 dead, 8 wounded," 2 June 2018

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

see hostile

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Statistics for hostility

Last Updated

30 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hostility

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

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More Definitions for hostility



English Language Learners Definition of hostility

: an unfriendly or hostile state, attitude, or action

hostilities : acts of fighting in a war


hos·til·i·ty | \hä-ˈsti-lə-tē \
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 \
plural hostilities

Medical Definition of hostility 

: conflict, opposition, or resistance in thought or principle

Other Words from hostility

hostile \ˈhäs-tᵊl, -ˌtīl \ adjective

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Comments on hostility

What made you want to look up hostility? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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