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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The enmity between the two countries dates back to the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the killing of more than 1 million Armenians ordered by the rulers of Ottoman Turkey at the outbreak of World War I. Stephen Kurkjian, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Feb. 2023 That enmity between Iran and the U.S. has ebbed and surged over the decades since. Arkansas Online, 5 Nov. 2022 That enmity between Iran and the U.S. has ebbed and surged over the decades since. Jon Gambrell, ajc, 4 Nov. 2022 The country remains highly polarized, pulled between two political giants fired in part by personal and mutual enmity. Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Washington Post, 3 Oct. 2022 Spoiler alert: bitter enmity erupts between the two men, fuelled by the difference in their life paths and by unresolved issues regarding the fateful night in 2002. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Mar. 2023 Europe may find itself in a state of constant, low-intensity war that cements enmity beyond generations. Trita Parsi, The New Republic, 20 Jan. 2023 Celebrated by both Ukrainians and Russians, the Orthodox Christmas holiday also underscored the enmity that Russia's invasion is precipitating between them. Hanna Arhirova And Andrew Meldrum, USA TODAY, 7 Jan. 2023 But that quest, too, was abandoned after horrors throughout the 20th century made clear that linguistic divides were not the root of humanity’s enmity and bloodshed. Matteo Wong, The Atlantic, 31 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enmity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 27 Mar. 2023.

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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