n. pl. en·mi·ties
1. Deep-seated, often mutual hatred.
2. A feeling or state of hatred or animosity: "More than almost any public man I have ever met, he has avoided exciting personal enmities" (Theodore Roosevelt).
[Middle English enemite, from Old French enemistie, from Vulgar Latin *inimīcitās, from Latin inimīcus, enemy; see ENEMY.]
Synonyms: enmity, hostility, antagonism, animosity, animus, antipathy
These nouns refer to the feeling or expression of ill will toward another. Enmity is deep-seated hatred that seeks to oppose, harm, or defeat another: "He made a reality ... of what my Zaidy could not even allow himself to imagine—a life that warmed frigid blood, that melted solid walls of enmity built by war and poverty and cruelty" (Reesa Grushka).
Hostility is similar to enmity but often suggests an angry reaction or vigilant opposition: "The Court had demonstrated its hostility to affirmative action in several recent cases" (Mari Matsuda & Charles Lawrence III).
Antagonism often suggests mutual hostility: "The antagonism between business—especially big industrial business—and environmentalists appeared to be a war that would never end" (Lis Harris).
Animosity and animus connote visceral emotion: "Just beneath the surface of their civility ... lurked a powerful animosity between Johnson and Kennedy" (Nick Kotz)."The examination became a forum in which [he] could vent his animus against the administration" (Joseph A. McCartin).
Antipathy is deep-seated aversion or repugnance: a long-held antipathy to modern art.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.