prone

adjective
\ ˈprōn How to pronounce prone (audio) \

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 How to pronounce proneness (audio) \ noun

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 The cells are also brittle and prone to shattering, causing anemia that, in the long term, starves organs of oxygen. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "A new sickle cell drug could soon get U.S. approval. But does it work?," 17 Sep. 2019 Lifeguards spotted a surfboard floating in the ocean and responded to the area, but found Reed prone and unresponsive in the water, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Authorities identify surfer found dead in water off Encinitas," 16 Sep. 2019 Officers are then shown cautiously watching the prone animal while it is cut free from the hammock. Fox News, "Cops use Tasers to incapacitate and free moose tangled in a hammock," 11 Sep. 2019 One of its rare artifacts is the Sumedha Hermit, a late 12th-century statue of the Buddha lying prone. Kareena Gianani, National Geographic, "Explore Cambodia’s ancient stone city," 10 Sep. 2019 Areas of the country are very hot and dry, and many native plants are fire prone and combustible. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Australia's severe fires an 'omen' of blazes to come," 9 Sep. 2019 More than 1,500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where sheets of rain began falling late Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, located on a peninsula prone to flooding. Anchorage Daily News, "Dorian, back to a Category 3 hurricane, creeps up US coast," 5 Sep. 2019 More than 1,500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where sheets of rain began falling late Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, located on a peninsula prone to flooding. Meg Kinnard, The Denver Post, "Hurricane Dorian grows back to a Category 3 as it creeps up the east coast," 4 Sep. 2019 But humans proved to be clumsy, expensive, and prone to strikes. Jesse Dunietz, Popular Mechanics, "The Hidden Science of Elevators," 2 Sep. 2019

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

26 Oct 2019

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
How to pronounce prone (audio)

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 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

prone

adjective
\ ˈprōn How to pronounce prone (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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