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

Recent Examples on the Web At the end of the day, however, people born during this phase are appreciative and gracious and may have a proclivity for helping others and sharing their wisdom with those in need. Aliza Pelto, Women's Health, 10 Sep. 2023 Despite a proclivity for political activism (naturally, as his father was an Obama appointee and aide), Chance remains remarkably nonabrasive, promoting God-policy over lockstep partisanship. Jonathan Rowe, Spin, 24 Aug. 2023 Reggie has his eyes opened by Bug (Jamie Foxx), a streetwise stray, with a very foul mouth and a proclivity for humping inanimate objects. Brian Lowry, CNN, 17 Aug. 2023 The College Conversation, written by a former education reporter at the New York Times and a former University of Pennsylvania admissions dean, offers timelines for when to discuss finances, aspirations, proclivity, and, gulp, post-collegiate careers. The Editors, Town & Country, 3 Aug. 2023 Sometimes his proclivity for seeking out the ball can lead him into bad spots, and his pedestrian physical tools could be a problem against certain receivers. Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY, 28 Apr. 2023 Meanwhile, DeSantis, responding to an audience question about Jan. 6, took an oblique swipe at Trump’s proclivity to look backward. Steven Porter,, 27 June 2023 For most of the first two months as a big-leaguer, Wiemer faced a gauntlet of breaking and off-speed pitches from right-handers, who were exploiting his proclivity to jump out at the ball. Journal Sentinel, 7 June 2023 Advertisement The emails released Monday also underscore the extent to which JPMorgan’s executives not only knew about Epstein’s proclivity for young women, but also corresponded and even appeared to joke about it. Aaron Gregg, Washington Post, 25 July 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 30 Sep. 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

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