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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Comity \Com"i*ty\, n.; pl. Comities. [L. comitas, fr. comis courteous, kind.] Mildness and suavity of manners; courtesy between equals; friendly civility; as, comity of manners; the comity of States.

Comity of nations (International Law), the courtesy by which nations recognize within their own territory, or in their courts, the peculiar institutions of another nation or the rights and privileges acquired by its citizens in their own land. By some authorities private international law rests on this comity, but the better opinion is that it is part of the common law of the land, and hence is obligatory as law.

Syn: Civility; good breeding; courtesy; good will.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., "association," from French comité, from Latin comitas "courtesy, friendliness, kindness, affability," from comis "courteous, friendly, kind," which is of uncertain origin. Meaning "courtesy" in English is from 1540s. Phrase comity of nations attested from 1862: "The obligation recognized by civilized nations to respect each other's laws and usages as far as their separate interests allow."


n. 1 courtesy and considerate behaviour towards others; social harmony. 2 Friendly understanding and mutual recognition between two entities, especially nations.


n. a state or atmosphere of harmony or mutual civility and respect


In law, comity is "a practice among different political entities (as countries, states, or courts of different jurisdictions)" involving the " mutual recognition of legislative, executive, and judicial acts."

Usage examples of "comity".

But while Japan has become a formally Westernized nationality in the comity of such nations, India remains a world in itself.

The Open Conspiracy must help the man of science to realize, what at present he fails most astonishingly to realize, that he belongs to a greater comity than any king or president represents to-day, and so prepare him for better behaviour in the next season of trial.

A political union, much like the marriage of a man and woman, had to be based on comity and shared beliefs.

Now it had gone to the Antberd Comity, on whose graves he would spit if he got the chance.

Hamid-Jones was guiltily aware that he was probably being unfair to the man, but he felt that he could not depend on the comity that one Believer always owed to another.

If these correspondencies should ever be laid open to the public eye, they will probably be found not models of comity towards their adversaries.

Despite Debrasdaughter's attempt to keep order, the discussion ran into irrelevant byways, circular arguments, vague calls for comity, and general statements of male and female grievance.