Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

propensity

play
noun pro·pen·si·ty \prə-ˈpen(t)-sə-tē\

Simple Definition of propensity

  • : a strong natural tendency to do something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of propensity

plural

propensities

  1. :  an often intense natural inclination or preference

Examples of propensity in a sentence

  1. Other researches are exploring how the adolescent propensity for uninhibited risk taking propels teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol. —Claudia Wallis, Time, 10 May 2004

  2. On the other hand, a jury might be convinced that a meth dealer who had brazenly fired a pistol through his door had a propensity for violence. —John Cloud, Time, 14 July 2003

  3. A central tenet of this camp's proponents is that a considerable number of biological dispositions evolved during the Stone Age, including a male propensity for making war. —Bruce Bower, Science News, 27 Jan. 2001

  4. He had a propensity for crime.

  5. <the criminal propensities of the family extended over several generations>



Did You Know?

When it comes to synonyms of "propensity," the letter "p" predominates. "Proclivity," "preference," "penchant," and "predilection" all share with "propensity" the essential meaning "a strong instinct or liking." Not every word that is similar in meaning to "propensity" begins with "p," however. "Propensity" comes from Latin propensus, the past participle of "propendēre," a verb meaning "to incline" or "to hang forward or down." Thus "leaning" and "inclination" are as good synonyms of "propensity" as any of those "p"-words.

Origin and Etymology of propensity

(see propense)


First Known Use: 1570

Synonym Discussion of propensity

leaning, propensity, proclivity, penchant mean a strong instinct or liking for something. leaning suggests a liking or attraction not strong enough to be decisive or uncontrollable <a student with artistic leanings>. propensity implies a deeply ingrained and usually irresistible inclination <a propensity to offer advice>. proclivity suggests a strong natural proneness usually to something objectionable or evil <a proclivity for violence>. penchant implies a strongly marked taste in the person or an irresistible attraction in the object <a penchant for taking risks>.

PROPENSITY Defined for Kids

propensity

play
noun pro·pen·si·ty \prə-ˈpen-sə-tē\

Definition of propensity for Students

  1. :  a natural tendency to do or favor something <They have a propensity to chatter.>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up propensity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a representation of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

melancholy lazy frenetic philistine
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ