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 For the lobster and cranberry industries, the 25 percent additional tariff from China resulted in them losing millions of dollars in sales to a key export market that was growing at the time the hostilities started. Andy Rosen,, "Trade deal leaves cranberry, lobster industries frustrated," 16 Jan. 2020 On Thursday, a lawyer for the bakery’s owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, contended that the Appeals Court should reverse Avakian’s ruling because of the clear hostility Avakian and others demonstrated toward the Kleins’ religion. oregonlive, "Oregon appeals court will rule again on state’s $130K fine of Sweet Cakes bakery for refusing to sell same-sex wedding cake," 10 Jan. 2020 However, the same hostility does not seem to exist between Ivanka Trump and the tech industry. Sarah Midkiff,, "Ivanka Trump’s Latest Speech At A Tech Conference Sparks Backlash," 9 Jan. 2020 But veterans interviewed by USA TODAY said the recent hostilities with Iran are an escalation of a conflict that has been going on for years. Donovan Slack, USA TODAY, "‘Wars cost’: Veterans have a message as tensions reach a 12-year high in the Middle East," 9 Jan. 2020 The optimism of Johnson’s vision was dented by the hostility of figures such as Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty and Texas governor John Connolly, both Democrats. Fred Siegel, National Review, "The Forgotten Failures of the Great Society," 9 Jan. 2020 Whether the current crisis calms down or boils over, however, hostilities are likely to continue to at least simmer. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "How Iran Can Still Use Cyber and Drone Technology to Attack the U.S.," 8 Jan. 2020 But the challenge for all three is that Biden-versus-Bernie crystallizes the current split inside the Democratic Party, including over the recent hostilities with Iran. NBC News, "It's still Biden and Sanders jockeying for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party," 7 Jan. 2020 Many tried to pick up the pieces of their lives without much success: the years in prison coupled with the hostility of neighbours often proved too much to overcome. Naresh Fernandes, Quartz India, "India risks repeating the shameful 1960s internment of its Chinese community," 6 Jan. 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

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hostility.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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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).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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