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December 11, 2010 Word of the Day

December 11, 2010

Word of the Day

  • comity
  • KAH-muh-tee


: friendly civility : courtesy

In the interests of neighborhood comity, everyone agreed to a block-wide tag sale.

"Two years after an election that seemed to portend a new era of comity, American politics has resumed what now appears to be its permanent condition of polarization, quite possibly worsened by widening rifts within the two major parties." -- From an essay by Sam Tanenhaus in The New York Times, October 24, 2010


"Our country soweth also in the field of our breasts many precious seeds, as … honest behavior, affability, comity," wrote English clergyman Thomas Becon in 1543. Becon's use is the earliest documented appearance of "comity" -- a word derived from Latin "comitas," meaning "courteousness" (and probably related to the Sanskrit word for "he smiles"). "Comity" is largely used in political and judicial contexts. Since 1862 "comity of nations" has referred to countries bound by a courteous relationship based on mutual recognition of executive, legislative, and judicial acts. And, in legal contexts, "comity" refers to the recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another.