dis·​po·​si·​tion ˌdi-spə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce disposition (audio)
: prevailing tendency, mood, or inclination
: temperamental makeup
: the tendency of something to act in a certain manner under given circumstances
: the act or the power of disposing or the state of being disposed: such as
: final arrangement : settlement
the disposition of the case
: transfer to the care or possession of another
: the power of such transferal
: orderly arrangement
ˌdi-spə-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce disposition (audio)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between disposition and predisposition?

Sometimes disposition and predisposition mean the same thing, and sometimes they do not. When refering to a person's usual mood or attitude you would speak of their disposition, not their predisposition. However, when referring to a person's tendency, or inclination, the two words are largely synonymous (one might have either a predisposition or a disposition towards being generous). An exception to this synonym comes in medical use, where it is far more common to use predisposition (as in "a predisposition to nearsightedness").

What does disposition mean in court?

In legal use the word disposition may have several possible meanings. It may refer to the sentence given to a convicted juvenile defendant, or to the final determination of a matter (such as a case or motion) by a court. It may also be defined as "transfer to the care, possession, or ownership of another" as well as "the power of such transferal."

What does disposition mean in business?

In business, disposition may refer either to "the transfer of property from one to another by any of various means including gift, barter, sale, or will" or to “the plan for or method by which such a transfer is executed.”

Choose the Right Synonym for disposition

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group.

disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one.

a cheerful disposition

temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization.

an artistic temperament

temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations.

a resilient temper

character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents.

strength of character

personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person.

a somber personality

Examples of disposition in a Sentence

They move jerkily, like puppets, but have a happy disposition; they are perpetually smiling and are given to frequent paroxysms of laughter. Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999
… the eight species of wild equids (horses and their relatives) vary greatly in disposition, even though all eight are genetically so close to each other that they will interbreed and produce healthy (though usually sterile) offspring. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997
His father, Increase [Mather], with all his faults—his sour, depressive disposition, his open preference for England—is much more attractive. Monroe K. Spears, American Ambitions, 1987
Her easy disposition and sociability masked the intensity of her feelings. John Edgar Wideman, Bothers and Keepers, 1984
a dog with an excellent disposition Her disposition was to always think negatively. He has a disposition toward criminal behavior. people with a genetic disposition toward a particular disease A will is a legal document that is used in the disposition of property. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The disposition of Russian forces, their activities, the fact that blood supplies were being sent to the Russian encampments: none of this was the behavior of an army conducting an exercise. Keith Gessen, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 More career news Marc Frederick is the new program manager of dispositions at the City of San Diego. The Hub, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Aug. 2023 The book’s firm grip on the listener is further tightened by Christine Lakin’s superb narration, which nicely distinguishes between speakers and provides subtle hints of disposition and motive. Katherine A. Powers, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2023 The community has been mourning Tam Lung, a lifelong Lahaina resident and father of three, who was remembered for his happy and light-hearted disposition. Melissa Chan, NBC News, 18 Aug. 2023 At the cost of a single truck and perhaps a few casualties, the 35th Marine Brigade wreaked havoc on a Russian fortification and gained some useful intelligence on the Russians’ disposition. David Axe, Forbes, 16 July 2023 My office will be happy to discuss with anyone the disposition of any case after it is closed. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 1 Sep. 2023 The department didn’t respond to requests for comment about its data or the disposition of any corresponding internal affairs investigations. Sean Cotter, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Aug. 2023 Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals, 22(6), 843–848. The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disposition.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin disposition-, dispositio, from disponere — see dispose entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of disposition was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near disposition

Cite this Entry

“Disposition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disposition. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​po·​si·​tion ˌdis-pə-ˈzish-ən How to pronounce disposition (audio)
: the act or power of disposing : disposal
: arrangement sense 1
the disposition of furniture in a room
: one's usual attitude or mood
a cheerful disposition
: a leaning toward a particular way of thinking or acting : tendency, inclination
neither showed a disposition to retreat

Legal Definition


: the final determination of a matter (as a case or motion) by a court or quasi-judicial tribunal
the beneficiary of such a disposition of charges against himUnited States v. Smith, 354 A.2d 510 (1976)
compare decision, holding, judgment, opinion, ruling, verdict
: the sentence given to a convicted criminal defendant
probation is often a desirable dispositionW. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel
also : the sentence given to or treatment prescribed for a juvenile offender
: transfer to the care, possession, or ownership of another
to either a surviving spouse or a charity, those dispositions are totally exonerated from the payment of taxesMatter of McKinney, 477 N.Y.S.2d 367 (1984)
also : the power of such transferral
: the state or condition of being predisposed : predisposition

More from Merriam-Webster on disposition

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