en·​mi·​ty ˈen-mə-tē How to pronounce enmity (audio)
plural enmities
: positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will

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Enmity and its synonyms "hostility," animosity, and animus all indicate deep-seated dislike or ill will. Enmity (which derives from an Anglo-French word meaning "enemy") suggests true hatred, either overt or concealed. Hostility implies strong, open enmity that shows itself in attacks or aggression. Animosity carries the sense of anger, vindictiveness, and sometimes the desire to destroy what one hates. Animus is generally less violent than animosity, but definitely conveys active prejudice or ill will.

Choose the Right Synonym for enmity

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 enmity in a Sentence

Bin Laden may no longer be supplying directions and funding, but his ethos of enmity lives on. Michael Hirsh et al., Newsweek, 10 June 2002
What has earned her the enmity of so many peers is her indiscriminate outspokenness. Karen Springer, Newsweek, 10 June 1996
Battles over slavery in the territories broke the second party system apart and then shaped a realigned system that emphasized sectional enmity. Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, 1988
There's a long history of enmity between them. His comments earned him the enmity of his coworkers. We need to put aside old enmities for the sake of peace.
Recent Examples on the Web Has there ever been more enmity between two countries than between Turkey and Greece? (This is a good parlor question. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 15 May 2024 The enmity between Daniels—born Stephanie Clifford—and Trump was on full display for jurors and judges from afar alike to see. Philip Elliott, TIME, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for enmity 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'enmity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English enmite, from Anglo-French enemité, enemisté, from enemi enemy

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of enmity was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near enmity

Cite this Entry

“Enmity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enmity. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​mi·​ty ˈen-mət-ē How to pronounce enmity (audio)
plural enmities
: a very deep unfriendly feeling : hatred

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