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

The war, which ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, saw open hostilities cease with the creation of the DMZ, which is approximately 155 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "You Can Now Hike Alongside the Korean DMZ," 1 May 2019 Although evidence suggests a growing distance between the father and the son, the jury is still out on how deep the hostility between them was. David S. Reynolds, WSJ, "‘Becoming Lincoln’ Review: The Center That Held," 15 Feb. 2019 But on May 24, the meeting was canceled amid hostility over comments made by one of Trump’s advisers that compared North Korea to Libya. Katherine Nails,, "U.S.-North Korea relations: Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un to have summit in Singapore," 11 June 2018 Lawyers on both sides have expressed exasperation with the current state of hostilities. Sean Elder, Town & Country, "The War of The Grosses: Inside the Bitter Divorce Battle of the Laguna Beach "Bond King"," 22 Oct. 2018 The Latest on developments in Israel and the Palestinian territories (all times local): 11:30 a.m. The United Nations' Mideast envoy is expressing his concern about the latest escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas. Fox News, "The Latest: Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed," 9 Aug. 2018 President Trump’s hostility to women is no secret, and his selection of Judge Kavanaugh to join the Court is just the most recent in his long line of attacks on reproductive freedom. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Marie Claire, "If You're Not Worried About Justice Kavanaugh Overturning Roe v. Wade—You Should Be," 24 July 2018 The union leaders asked about rights of access for organizers and a commitment that Amazon wouldn’t treat them with hostility or retaliate against workers who spoke to them. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Amazon’s New York Project Foundered on Labor Organizing, Opposition to Subsidies," 16 Feb. 2019 Marriott's curse at the president was among other incidents this month in which members of the Trump administration were met with hostility by people opposed to Trump's policies. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Sen. Maggie Hassan suspends intern for yelling vulgarity at President Trump," 26 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

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

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Statistics for hostility

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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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
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 hostile (audio) , -​ˌtīl How to pronounce hostile (audio) \ 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 tendency to relapse

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