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 Only non-national terrorists have dared to initiate hostilities against the United States directly since then, and not often. Conrad Black, National Review, "Trump’s NATO Successes," 3 Dec. 2019 When Otis asks for affection or guidance, he’s met with hostility or mocking. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "Shia LaBeouf explores his childhood in ‘Honey Boy’," 26 Nov. 2019 That hostility serves as the backdrop for a fierce battle in bankruptcy court over how much money PG&E will pay wildfire victims, insurance companies, public agencies and other creditors. New York Times, "PG&E Struggles to Find a Way Out of Bankruptcy," 20 Nov. 2019 So the best way for Amazon and other big Seattle businesses to quell rising hostility would be to find ways to reform the region's housing laws to allow more housing to be constructed. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Amazon fails to unseat pro-tax city council members in Seattle," 12 Nov. 2019 The date has significance in U.S. history, marking the day that major hostilities of WWI ended in 1918. Patrick Connolly,, "Veterans Day: Central Florida celebrations honor military members," 7 Nov. 2019 Working with veteran cinematographer Rémy Chevrin (Sorry Angel), Attal maintains a somber tone throughout the narrative, steeping the hostilities in shades of ochre and gray, with many scenes set at night or in the rain. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, "'My Dog Stupid' ('Mon chien Stupide'): Film Review," 31 Oct. 2019 Israel has encouraged the notion of a universal Arab hostility toward its native Jews in order to seed fear and division, and to extract loyalty from these Jews by portraying their countries of origin as fundamentally antagonistic. Harper's magazine, "Letters," 28 Oct. 2019 Nigeria’s military has resumed hostilities in the country’s northeast with one of its frequent targets. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria’s military is in a battle with humanitarian NGOs in the country’s troubled northeast," 26 Sep. 2019

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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Learn More about hostility

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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Hostility.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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 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).


to assail by words or arguments

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