noun pro·cliv·i·ty \prō-ˈkli-və-tē\

Definition of proclivity



  1. :  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

  • In the 2006 stoner comedy Grandma’s Boy, eccentric video game creator J.P. — who inexplicably speaks in a robot voice — gets a bit overexcited when a woman at a party plays along with his robotic proclivities.
  • Featuring AI that was developed to determine each animal’s traits – including proclivity for fight or flight, sensitivity to pain, and curiosity – the title appears to be the most promising Jurassic Park spin-off to date.

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.

Did You Know?

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

First Known Use: 1561

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

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up proclivity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to glide in or as if in an airplane

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!