prone

1 of 2

adjective

1
: having a tendency or inclination : being likely
often used with to
prone to forget names
His relatives are prone to heart disease.
Those batteries are prone to corrosion.
a process that's prone to error
… a great quarterback prone to the occasional, inevitable mistake.John McGrath
This means the results should be interpreted cautiously, as smaller sample sizes are prone to being influenced by chance.nhs.uk
often used in combination
accident-prone
a drought-prone region
2
a
: having the front or ventral surface of a body facing downward : lying with the chest and stomach positioned downward
a patient placed in a prone position
The victim was lying prone in the street.
b
: lying flat or prostrate
prone stems
prone adverb
pronely adverb
pronely positioned
lying pronely
proneness noun
proneness to jealousy
accident-proneness

prone

2 of 2

verb

proned; proning; prones
1
transitive medical : to place (oneself or another person) in a prone position with the chest and stomach facing downward especially to increase blood oxygenation
Ventilated patients are typically proned for 16 hours, but at Mass General, Dr. [C. Corey] Hardin said, some are proned for 24 or 48 hours.Pam Belluck
If patients are alert, they can turn, or prone, themselves every couple hours. If they're ventilated, it could take a team of up to half a dozen health care workers 20 minutes to carefully prone a patient, who might then stay on their stomach for up to 24 hours.Mallory Moench
see also proning entry 1
2
a
transitive : to cause or order (a person) to lie flat on the ground with the face and stomach facing downward
They were proned and handcuffed.
He was ordered to prone himself.
often used with out
… [Sergeant Jeremy] Glass said handcuffing in the prone position is the method that is taught under the state's Basic Law Enforcement Training standards. …"Subjects end up being proned out in about 60% of physical force encounters …," Glass said.John Henderson
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight said deputies found the man …. Two deputies drew their firearms and "proned him out at gunpoint," Knight said … .Luke Ramseth
b
intransitive : to lie flat on one's stomach on the ground
usually used with out
He immediately proned out when told to do so.

Did you know?

The Difference Between Prone, Supine, and Prostrate

In literal use, prone and supine indicate contrasting positions of the body: a person lying prone is facing downward while a person lying supine is face up.

Both prone and supine also have meanings that have nothing to do with physical position. Supine, in keeping with the image of one lying comfortably idle, can be applied to those who are willing to be controlled by others, or who show mental or moral slackness, as in "supine obedience" or "supine inaction."

Prone is used in the sense of "having a tendency or inclination," as in "prone to worry" or "accident-prone." This usage is similar to such words as apt, liable, or likely (as in "apt to be late"), but in many instances prone implies a vulnerability to attack or damaging influence, in keeping with the image of one lying face down and unable to see what is approaching.

The word prostrate too has meanings to do with body position. It is used with the very specific meaning of "stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission," but is also used simply to mean "lying flat." In figurative use, prostrate means "completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise," as in "prostrate in fear."

So while prone, supine, and prostrate have specific meanings with regard to body position, they also come with situational connotations in many cases: prone suggests exposure or vulnerability; supine connotes a position of weakness or passivity; and prostrate implies submission in the face of being overcome.

Choose the Right Synonym for prone

prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent mean lying down.

prone implies a position with the front of the body turned toward the supporting surface.

push-ups require a prone position

supine implies lying on one's back and suggests inertness or abjectness.

lying supine on the couch

prostrate implies lying full-length as in submission, defeat, or physical collapse.

a runner fell prostrate at the finish line

recumbent implies the posture of one sleeping or resting.

a patient comfortably recumbent in a hospital bed

synonyms see in addition liable

Examples of prone in a Sentence

Adjective Hull then corralled the rebound and shoveled the puck past the left arm and leg of the prone Hasek with his forehand, touching off a wild on-ice celebration. Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 28 June 1999
I too have been prone on my couch this week, a victim of the common cold. Flannery O'Connor, letter, 20 Mar. 1961
My almond tree lies prone across the court, blown down by a gale. Conrad Aiken, letter, 3 Oct. 1930
he was prone to emotional outbursts under stress quickly subdue the suspect and get him into a prone position
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But he’ll likely be remembered more for signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract in 2020 under his watch, a decision that was widely criticized among league executives at the time given Hayward’s injury prone tendencies. Roderick Boone, Charlotte Observer, 12 Feb. 2024 Energy drinks could put kids at risk Kids and teens who drink high-caffeine energy drinks could be more prone to mental health disorders like ADHD, anxiety and depression, new research has shown. Melissa Rudy, Fox News, 4 Feb. 2024 Much like the rest of the natural satellite’s surface, the area of the south pole that is the subject of so much interest is prone to these seismic phenomena, potentially posing a threat to future human settlers and equipment. Jacopo Prisco, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 How to prepare for potential flooding Clean out your gutters Use sandbags if your home is prone to flooding Have an evacuation plan just in case Stay updated with the latest weather forecast, watches and warnings Get an emergency kit ready. Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2024 These are very prone to wilting because the pots are full of roots. Nancy Brachey, Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 Some of the breeds that are most prone to getting cancer are flat-coated retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs and Westies, Lunney said. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 30 Jan. 2024 On the flip side, KU lacks depth, shoots 3-pointers at the lowest rate in the Bill Self era and is prone to offensive lulls. Shreyas Laddha, Kansas City Star, 26 Jan. 2024 Cannabis is an entirely new market, so early predictions were prone to error. Scooty Nickerson, The Mercury News, 26 Jan. 2024
Verb
Along with their regular nursing duties, patients needed to be proned, or flipped, multiple times a day just to breathe. Brandy Zadrozny, NBC News, 10 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prone.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Latin pronus bent forward, tending; akin to Latin pro forward — more at for

Verb

derivative of prone entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1971, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Time Traveler
The first known use of prone was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near prone

Cite this Entry

“Prone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prone. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

prone

adjective
1
: likely to be or act a certain way
was prone to laziness
accident-prone
2
: lying flat
especially : lying face down
he was prone on the floor
prone adverb
proneness noun

Medical Definition

prone

1 of 2 adjective
: having the front or ventral surface of a body facing downward : lying with the chest and stomach positioned downward
a patient placed in a prone position

prone

2 of 2 verb
proned; proning

transitive verb

: to place (oneself or another person) in a prone position with the chest and stomach facing downward especially to increase blood oxygenation
One of the interesting things they noticed as they analyzed the data was that patients with COVID-19 who were "proned" had a much higher chance of survival than patients who stayed on their backs.Nancy Burns-Fusaro, The Westerly (Rhode Island) Sun
If patients are alert, they can turn, or prone, themselves every couple hours. If they're ventilated, it could take a team of up to half a dozen health care workers 20 minutes to carefully prone a patient, who might then stay on their stomach for up to 24 hours.Mallory Moench, The San Francisco Chronicle
see also proning

More from Merriam-Webster on prone

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