\ ˈprōn How to pronounce prone (audio) \

Definition of prone

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 often used in combination accident-pronea drought-prone region
2a : 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


proned; proning; prones

Definition of prone (Entry 2 of 2)

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
2a 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 HendersonHumboldt 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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from prone


prone adverb
pronely adverb
pronely positioned lying pronely
proneness \ ˈprōn-​nəs How to pronounce prone (audio) \ noun
proneness to jealousy accident-proneness

Synonyms for prone

Synonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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.

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The utility estimates that about a third of its overhead power lines and other equipment is in areas more prone to fire. J.d. Morris, San Francisco Chronicle, "This is how PG&E says it will try to prevent wildfires in 2021," 5 Feb. 2021 Burn areas are especially prone to flooding since the land can't absorb water. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: Blue Shield tapped to run state vaccine system; Bay Area hit by big storm," 28 Jan. 2021 That way, the cream creates a barrier and her eyes are less prone to irritation. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Expert Nightly Skin Care Routine," 26 Jan. 2021 Like other stakeholder proponents, Mr. Schwab cherry-picks examples to support his claim that shareholder capitalism is somehow ignoble or prone to disaster rather than deriving his claims from the totality of available examples. Vivek Ramaswamy, WSJ, "‘Stakeholder Capitalism’ Review: The Global, Olympian ‘We’," 25 Jan. 2021 On Lake Erie, typically the most prone to significant freeze, only about 3 percent of the lake surface is covered by ice. Star Tribune, "Snow Ends Saturday Night, Leaving Us With Clearing Skies Sunday," 23 Jan. 2021 While that’s just 8 percent of Earth’s land, humanity tends to build big cities in coastal areas, which are prone to subsidence. Matt Simon, Wired, "The Ongoing Collapse of the World's Aquifers," 19 Jan. 2021 Even if your skin is oily and prone to breakouts, it can still be dehydrated—leaving your face feeling dry, tight, and flaky. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "The Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin, According to Glamour Editors," 12 Jan. 2021 Another challenge is a CDC requirement that people be watched for side-effects for 15 minutes after vaccination, and a half hour for those prone to severe allergic reactions. Robert Weisman,, "Rural states leading the nation in early COVID-19 vaccinations," 9 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prone


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1971, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for prone


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


derivative of prone entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prone

Time Traveler for prone

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for prone

Last Updated

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prone



English Language Learners Definition of prone

: likely to do, have, or suffer from something
: lying with the front of your body facing downward


\ ˈprōn How to pronounce prone (audio) \

Kids Definition of prone

1 : likely to be or act a certain way Her dog is prone to laziness.
2 : lying with the front of the body facing downward


\ ˈprōn How to pronounce prone (audio) \

Medical Definition of prone

: 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on prone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prone

Nglish: Translation of prone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prone for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prone

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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