[hos-tl or, esp. British, -tahyl]


of, relating to, or characteristic of an enemy: a hostile nation.
opposed in feeling, action, or character; antagonistic: hostile criticism.
characterized by antagonism.
not friendly, warm, or generous; not hospitable.


a person or thing that is antagonistic or unfriendly.
Military. an enemy soldier, plane, ship, etc.

Origin of hostile

1585–95; < Latin hostīlis, equivalent to hostis enemy (see host2) + -īlis -ile
Related formshos·tile·ly, adverbin·ter·hos·tile, adjectivenon·hos·tile, adjectivenon·hos·tile·ly, adverbo·ver·hos·tile, adjectiveo·ver·hos·tile·ly, adverbpre·hos·tile, adjectivesem·i·hos·tile, adjectivesem·i·hos·tile·ly, adverbun·hos·tile, adjectiveun·hos·tile·ly, adverb
Can be confusedhostel hostile (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for hostile

1. warlike, aggressive. 2. adverse, averse, contrary. Hostile, inimical indicate that which characterizes an enemy or something injurious to one's interests. Hostile applies to the spirit, attitude, or action of an enemy: They showed a hostile and menacing attitude. Inimical applies to an antagonistic or injurious tendency or influence: Their remarks were inimical to his reputation.

Antonyms for hostile Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hostile

Contemporary Examples of hostile

Historical Examples of hostile

  • They were all facing him, and their faces were alive with interest; yet they made no hostile move.

  • They must proceed, in fact, as if they were founding a great city on a hostile soil.

  • It was curious how much help he expected of Vicksburg, a hostile town.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • The boy who crossed the bridge found himself in hostile country.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • At first suspicious and hostile, White Fang grew to like this petting.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for hostile



antagonistic; opposed
of or relating to an enemy


a hostile person; enemy
Derived Formshostilely, adverb

Word Origin for hostile

C16: from Latin hostīlis, from hostis enemy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hostile

late 15c., from Middle French hostile "of or belonging to an enemy" or directly from Latin hostilis "of an enemy," from hostis "enemy" (see guest). The noun meaning "hostile person" is recorded from 1838, American English, a word from the Indian wars.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper