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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Michael Avenatti, the once-swaggering celebrity lawyer who was undone by his proclivity for embezzlement and fraud, was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison for dodging taxes and stealing millions of dollars from clients. Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 5 Dec. 2022 It’s generally accepted that punk rock was — to a degree — a response to what many saw as the self-indulgence and pompousness of the band and others of its ilk who shared a proclivity for stadium spectacle and extended drum solos. Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2021 The survey also predicted a long-term, increased proclivity for remote work after the pandemic. Cat Woods, Marie Claire, 6 Apr. 2021 Three down ▪ Shortstop/center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela is 3 for 34 this month with no walks and eight strikeouts for Portland, with a proclivity to expand the strike zone even when ahead in the count. Alex Speier,, 12 May 2023 Springer was also criticized for showcasing some of Americans’ worst proclivities and for normalizing derogatory language. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2023 More recently, scientists studying dreams found actualizing them into reality can promote creativity in persons who may not have an imaginative proclivity. Sarah Jay, Discover Magazine, 18 Feb. 2022 From Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini’s batted ball luck, to Ryan Mountcastle’s strikeouts, to Anthony Santander’s plate discipline and the team’s general strikeout proclivity, here are five stats that stand out early in the season. Jon Meoli,, 13 Apr. 2021 Along with their scoring proclivity, Davis and Maravich share something else: both played college ball while being coached by their fathers. Tom Withers, ajc, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

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 3 Jun. 2023.

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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