\ ˈprōn \

Definition of prone 

1 : having a tendency or inclination : being likely prone to forget names accident-prone

2a : having the front or ventral surface downward

b : lying flat or prostrate

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Other words from prone

prone adverb
pronely adverb
proneness \ˈprōn-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for prone





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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

There were other such displays of emotion from Djokovic, who is prone to yelling at himself or at his coach. Howard Fendrich,, "Novak Djokovic outlasts Rafael Nadal in five sets to reach fifth Wimbledon final," 14 July 2018 Because black hair absorbs more heat than white hair, the air above black stripes may be prone to forming strong, fast microcurrents. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Settling a Heated Debate—Do Zebra Stripes Keep These Animals Cool?," 10 July 2018 Reds fans have often been left frustrated at the lack of a quality centre back partner for Van Dijk, with many seeing Dejan Lovren as too unreliable - with the Croatian defender having been prone to making costly mistakes in recent seasons., "‘Put a £30-£40m Bid in!’ Liverpool Fans Want 25-Year-Old Defender Signed After World Cup Heroics," 8 July 2018 Duncan, for all of his unparalleled excellence, was prone to occasional pangs of self-doubt. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "Parker’s pride drove Spurs until the end," 6 July 2018 Starter Jakob Junis is prone to giving up home runs and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is a bonafide Royals killer who magnified the issue plaguing the Royals’ sophomore pitcher. Maria Torres, kansascity, "A career night from Francisco Lindor dooms Royals, Junis in loss to Indians," 2 July 2018 Pests & diseases: If planted in clayish soils may be prone to root rot. Earl Nickel,, "Let this ‘Purple Pixie’ bring a little color to the garden," 29 June 2018 Workers who are out at the office may still mask aspects of their identity, like relationships or mannerisms that are prone to stereotypes. Rachel Siegel,, "Half of LGBTQ workers are still not out at the office, a report says," 28 June 2018 Your dog may do fine in the car while on flat city streets, but that doesn’t mean much—winding mountain roads into the wilderness will give you a better approximation for whether your dog is prone to motion sickness. Jayme Moye, Outside Online, "How to Take Any Dog on an Adventure," 27 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of prone

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prone

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

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Statistics for prone

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for prone

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

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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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of prone 

: having the front or ventral surface downward especially : lying facedown

Other words from prone

prone adverb

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Comments on prone

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