prone

adjective
\ 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 for prone

Synonyms

apt, given, inclined, tending

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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

Logistics firms are looking for alternatives to Dover, which handles 17% of Britain’s goods trade by volume, and would be especially prone to disruption if customs checks snap back into place. Max Colchester, WSJ, "On Both Sides of the English Channel, Authorities Brace for ‘No Deal’ Brexit Customs Snarls," 31 Dec. 2018 What makes some people radical and prone to taking extreme views on topics? John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Political radicals don’t evaluate their own errors—about anything," 21 Dec. 2018 Democracies are also prone to disorder and corruption, but these are ineluctable features of any political system comprised of selfish and flawed human beings. Sean Illing, Vox, "Intellectuals have said democracy is failing for a century. They were wrong.," 20 Dec. 2018 And for me, that means 15 minutes when my face doesn’t look acne-prone and irritated, but rather pure, flushed, and glowy. Jessica Defino, Marie Claire, "Can You Orgasm Your Way To Better Skin? I Tried," 17 Oct. 2018 People who are prone to procrastination have a larger amygdala, which deals with emotions and have a harder time turning emotional information into action. Fox News, "Kavanaugh grilled on cases during confirmation hearing," 6 Sep. 2018 Still, alliances that cross international borders can be prone to unraveling because car companies often have deep ties to national governments. Chester Dawson, WSJ, "Nissan-Renault Scandal Shows It’s Hard to Keep Car Alliances On Track," 11 Dec. 2018 That means that someone who is prone to acne might experience it even more so, and those with normally clear skin may get the rare pimple during their time of the month. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "7 Period Symptoms That Are Totally Normal," 5 Dec. 2018 The skin—which often features many different types of cladding—and the roof are, due to their complexity, more prone to vulnerabilities, such as leaks. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "Building houses that grow with us," 14 Nov. 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

5 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prone

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

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More Definitions for prone

prone

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of prone

: likely to do, have, or suffer from something

: lying with the front of your body facing downward

prone

adjective
\ 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

prone

adjective
\ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on prone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prone

Spanish Central: Translation of prone

Nglish: Translation of prone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prone for Arabic Speakers

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