pro·​cliv·​i·​ty | \ prō-ˈkli-və-tē How to pronounce proclivity (audio) \
plural proclivities

Definition of proclivity

: an inclination or predisposition toward something especially : a strong inherent inclination toward something objectionable

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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

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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.

Examples of proclivity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This could include whether co-workers made jokes about Politburo members or had a proclivity toward consumerism, which was considered decadent and not in keeping with a true communist cadre. Frank Jordans, Star Tribune, "From Communist cadre to Coca-Cola rep: An East German story," 2 Oct. 2020 First, the team rated each person on their level proclivity for conspiracy theories. Benedict Carey, New York Times, "A Theory About Conspiracy Theories," 28 Sep. 2020 Historically speaking, Car and Driver has never been a fan of active steering, but an HD pickup with a proclivity to wander in a lane seems like a perfect application. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, "2020 Ford F-350 Tremor Brings Back Pushrods," 25 Sep. 2020 Its authors acknowledge countries’ proclivity to place their own interests before those of others but argue that cross-border responsibilities in a global health emergency should supersede such urges. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "How to Decide Who Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine First," 3 Sep. 2020 For Lincoln, the preservation of the republic depended upon the presence of certain convictions in the hearts and minds of the people rather than their proclivity to pursue their interests. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Self-Interest Is Not Enough: Lincoln’s Classical Revision of the Founding," 18 Sep. 2020 But our proclivity for fairy tales is having tragic consequences in the 21st century. Katie Bain, Billboard, "20 Questions With Chris Korda: The Producer on the 'Anesthesia' of Dance Music & Why Humans Must Stop Breeding," 10 Sep. 2020 Domestic cats fall on a spectrum based on their proclivity to hunting and roaming and the supervision levels of their owners can affect how the feline pets interact with their surrounding environments. Skylar Mitchell, CNN, "Cat owners fall in one of five categories, researchers say. Which one are you?," 8 Sep. 2020 During his time as the Blazers’ signal-caller, Johnston has been one of the best players on the field for UAB but also its Achilles’ heal with his proclivity for turnovers. Evan Dudley, al, "Position-by-position breakdown for UAB’s season-opener against Central Arkansas," 3 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proclivity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of proclivity

1561, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for proclivity

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

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Time Traveler for proclivity

Time Traveler

The first known use of proclivity was in 1561

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proclivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for proclivity


How to pronounce proclivity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proclivity

formal : a strong natural liking for something that is usually bad : a tendency to do something that is usually bad

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