pro·​cliv·​i·​ty prō-ˈkli-və-tē How to pronounce proclivity (audio)
plural proclivities
: an inclination or predisposition toward something
especially : a strong inherent inclination toward something objectionable

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Have you always had this leaning toward wanting to know about words and their etymologies? Maybe you even have a propensity to use the featured word several times in the course of the day—due, of course, not to a proclivity for pretentiousness, but because you simply have a penchant for using a rich vocabulary. And perhaps you have a predilection for using lots of synonyms, such as proclivity (from clivus, the Latin word for "slope"), referring to a tendency usually toward something bad; propensity, suggesting an often uncontrollable inclination; penchant, meaning an irresistible attraction; and predilection, which describes a strong liking derived from one's temperament.

Choose the Right Synonym for proclivity

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

Examples of proclivity in a Sentence

showed artistic proclivities at an early age
Recent Examples on the Web Queen Maxima of the Netherlands took her proclivity for florals and applied the sensibility to her jewelry selection during a royal outing to the neighborhood of Zevenbergschen Hoek in the Netherlands on Thursday. Julia Teti, WWD, 5 July 2024 Without that molecular proclivity to curl, depth can spell doom., 3 July 2024 Both the actress and the royal’s respective apparel perfectly highlighted seasonal transitional dressing, demonstrating their proclivity for the midi dress while adding their own individual spin on the silhouette. Julia Teti, WWD, 18 June 2024 These women enlist their compassion and their proclivity to care for and rescue others. Marta Balaga, Variety, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for proclivity 

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

Word History


Latin proclivitas, from proclivis sloping, prone, from pro- forward + clivus slope — more at pro-, declivity

First Known Use

1561, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of proclivity was in 1561


Dictionary Entries Near proclivity

Cite this Entry

“Proclivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


pro·​cliv·​i·​ty prō-ˈkliv-ət-ē How to pronounce proclivity (audio)
plural proclivities
: a natural tendency of the mind or personality
showed artistic proclivities at an early age
especially : such a tendency toward something bad
a proclivity for violence

More from Merriam-Webster on proclivity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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