adjective \ ˈprōn \
|Updated on: 6 Jul 2018

Definition of prone

1 : having a tendency or inclination : being likely
  • prone to forget names
  • accident-prone
2 a : having the front or ventral surface downward
b : lying flat or prostrate






play \ˈprōn-nəs\ noun

Examples of prone in a Sentence

  1. 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 FarberSports Illustrated28 June 1999
  2. I too have been prone on my couch this week, a victim of the common cold. —Flannery O'Connorletter20 Mar. 1961
  3. My almond tree lies prone across the court, blown down by a gale. —Conrad Aikenletter3 Oct. 1930
  4. he was prone to emotional outbursts under stress

  5. quickly subdue the suspect and get him into a prone position

Recent Examples of prone from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of prone

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

prone Synonyms





Synonym Discussion of 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

PRONE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of prone for English Language Learners

  • : likely to do, have, or suffer from something

  • : lying with the front of your body facing downward

PRONE Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈprōn \

Definition of prone for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


adjective \ ˈprōn \

medical Definition of prone

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



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