de·​cliv·​i·​ty | \ di-ˈkli-və-tē How to pronounce declivity (audio) \
plural declivities

Definition of declivity

1 : downward inclination
2 : a descending slope

What is the Difference Between declivity and acclivity?

Three different English words descend from clivus, the Latin word for "slope" or "hill"—with the help of three Latin prefixes. Declivity combines clivus with the prefix de-, meaning "down" or "away." Acclivity uses ad- (which changes its second letter depending on the root word), meaning "to" or "toward." Hence, an acclivity is an upward slope. The third word has a figurative meaning in English: proclivity makes use of the prefix pro-, meaning "forward," and this word refers to a personal inclination, predisposition, or "leaning."

Examples of declivity in a Sentence

the cabin is precariously perched on a declivity of the mountain's northern face

First Known Use of declivity

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for declivity

Latin declivitat-, declivitas, from declivis sloping down, from de- + clivus slope, hill; akin to Latin clinare

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The first known use of declivity was in 1612

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Cite this Entry

“Declivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on declivity

Britannica English: Translation of declivity for Arabic Speakers


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