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

While existing legislation to prevent this abuse is too partisan to work, there could be a palatable way forward, such as limiting the use of emergency military construction authority to areas where U.S. forces are in active hostilities. Mackenzie Eaglen And Rick Berger, WSJ, "Support the Troops—Don’t Declare an Emergency," 10 Feb. 2019 Critics called it a concession for the North, which has long railed against the drills as invasion preparation and proof of U.S. hostility. Fox News, "Trump says he believes nuclear deal with N.Korea possible," 28 Sep. 2018 This hostility has its roots in the successful refashioning of Britishness as an outward-looking identity which espouses multiculturalism. The Economist, "English or British? Football highlights an enduring identity crisis," 12 July 2018 The squeeze is only going to get worse. Ageing populations, continued emigration and widespread hostility to migrants mean workforces are soon going to shrink. The Economist, "Central Europe’s Goldilocks economies," 5 July 2018 But among Venezuela's beleaguered opposition movement, hostility to the idea of a military intervention has slowly eased. Joshua Goodman,, "U.S. official: Trump pressed aides about Venezuela invasion," 4 July 2018 In Slate, Jamelle Bouie chronicles Sessions’ record of hostility toward immigrants, including those who are allowed to ask for asylum in the United States. Dan Rodricks,, "Sessions at odds with his church on immigrants," 14 June 2018 While many South Koreans welcome warming ties between the two countries, deep suspicion of Pyongyang's intentions and hostility to the Kim regime remains, not least among the small but substantial community of defectors living in the South. James Griffiths, CNN, "North Korean defectors say unification requires closing a cultural chasm," 29 Apr. 2018 For Bannon, this hostility to Mueller represents an evolution. The Washington Post,, "Steve Bannon pitching White House on proposal to reel in Mueller inquiry," 12 Apr. 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

18 Feb 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 \
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

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esteemed in general opinion

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