noun pro·cliv·i·ty \ prō-ˈkli-və-tē \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of proclivity

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

proclivity was our Word of the Day on 10/13/2015. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of proclivity from the Web

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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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.

Origin and Etymology of proclivity

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

PROCLIVITY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of proclivity for English Language Learners

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

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very hard to disturb or upset

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