1
a
: of or relating to an enemy
hostile fire
b
: marked by malevolence : having or showing unfriendly feelings
a hostile act
c
: openly opposed or resisting
a hostile critic
hostile to new ideas
d(1)
: not hospitable
plants growing in a hostile environment
(2)
: having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature
a hostile workplace
2
a
: of or relating to the opposing party in a legal controversy
a hostile witness
b
: adverse to the interests of a property owner or corporation management
a hostile takeover
hostile noun
hostilely
ˈhä-stᵊl-(l)ē How to pronounce hostile (audio)
-ˌstī(-ə)l-lē
adverb

Example Sentences

Dugoni, a lawyer who coauthored a nonfiction book about an Idaho worker brain-damaged in 1996 by cyanide fumes, opens his debut novel with a wrongful death attorney in San Francisco, David Sloane, about to make his closing remarks defending a corporation in a similar case. Sloane, who has won 14 cases in a row, hates his arrogant client and must face an obviously hostile jury. Publishers Weekly, 9 Jan. 2006 Relations with neighboring societies may be intermittently or chronically hostile. A society may be able to hold off its enemies as long as it is strong, only to succumb when it becomes weakened for any reason, including environmental damage. Jared M. Diamond, Collapse, 2005 I do not want a hostile relationship with my surgeon. But it's obvious he's pigeonholed me into the last of the four patient categories that doctors use when writing a case history: young, middle-aged, senior, elderly. Sylvia Simmons, Newsweek, 10 June 2002 Even when one is inside a climate-controlled spacecraft, sheltered from the deadly vacuum outside, space is a hostile setting. Terrestrial organisms venturing off the planet face a number of threats, chief among them cosmic radiation and the near absence of gravity. Kenneth S. Kosik, Air & Space, June/July 2001 Lotus Development Corp. succumbed to a sweetened offer of $3.52 billion, or $64 a share, from International Business Machines Corp. in one of the fastest capitulations ever in a hostile takeover. A marathon week of negotiations, which began shortly after IBM unveiled a surprise bid of $60 a share for Lotus last Monday, ended yesterday with the signing of a definitive agreement. Laurie Hays et al., Wall Street Journal, 12 June 1995 While the stereotype of the tortured artist brooding alone in a drafty garret may be an exaggeration, artists of all kinds—painters, musicians, poets, singers—often find themselves struggling to cope in a … world downright hostile to their work. Financial hardships, loneliness, family members who nag them to get "real" jobs, and their own self-destructive attitudes and habits can block creativity and prevent artists from pursuing their vision. New Age Journal, Winter 1995 They were entering hostile territory. Her suggestions were given a hostile reception. It was a small town that was hostile to outsiders. The camel is specially adapted to its hostile desert habitat. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In the November meeting, Hastings told council that multiple employees complained that the comments created a hostile work environment. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 23 Jan. 2023 In a letter sent from her attorney to Bronson last week, Demboski accused the mayor and his administration of violating the law, acting unethically, discriminating against women and creating and tolerating a hostile work environment. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Jan. 2023 Thompson was 18 of 45 for 220 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while nearly helping Miami to pull off an improbable upset in the difficult position of playing on the road in a hostile Orchard Park environment. David Furones, Sun Sentinel, 18 Jan. 2023 The communication errors were unfortunate, but forgivable considering McDaniel was working with a rookie third-string QB (Thompson) in a hostile environment. Ben Volin, BostonGlobe.com, 16 Jan. 2023 Wild Card Sunday kicks off in a hostile Buffalo environment as the 13-3 Bills host the 9-8 Miami Dolphins in an AFC East postseason battle. Catena Media, oregonlive, 15 Jan. 2023 The group said the remarks create a hostile work environment for Bolden. Andrea May Sahouri, Detroit Free Press, 12 Jan. 2023 Complaints of a hostile work environment, filed in the county’s Human Resources Division last May, prompted an internal affairs investigation, according to the notice of dismissal sent on Friday. Amanda Rabines, Orlando Sentinel, 7 Jan. 2023 Yet, since sometime before July 23, 2022, an anonymous user has been steadily updating IMDb’s trivia section on Corsage with hostile and belittling comments presented under the guise of background information. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 14 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin hostīlis, from hostis "enemy" + -īlis "pertaining to or characteristic of (such persons)" — more at host entry 1

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of hostile was in 1580

Dictionary Entries Near hostile

Cite this Entry

“Hostile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hostile. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

hostile

adjective
hos·​tile ˈhäs-tᵊl How to pronounce hostile (audio) -ˌtīl How to pronounce hostile (audio)
1
: of or relating to an enemy
hostile troops
2
: showing open resistance or opposition
a hostile critic
hostile to new things
3
: not hospitable : forbidding
a hostile environment
hostilely
-tᵊl-(l)ē How to pronounce hostile (audio)
-tīl-lē
adverb

Legal Definition

hostile

adjective
hos·​tile
1
: having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature
a hostile work environment
2
a
: of or relating to an opposing party in a legal action
a hostile claim
b
: adverse to the interests of a party to a legal action
if the interests of the party joined involuntarily render him hostile to the original plaintiff, he must remain a defendantJ. H. Friedenthal et al.
3
a
: adverse to or incompatible with the interests of a property owner
a hostile use
see also adverse possession at possession, easement by prescription at easement, prescription sense 1
b
: unwelcome by or contrary to the interests of corporate stockholders or management
a hostile takeover bid

More from Merriam-Webster on hostile

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY