\ 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 Parts of one flood-prone area in the Keys have been flooded for more than 80 days. Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY, "Amid rising seas, East Coast on pace for record-breaking tides: 'The new normal'," 27 Nov. 2019 In many coastal states, homes are going up at the fastest rate in the most flood-prone areas. John Schwartz, New York Times, "As Climate Risk Grows, Cities Test a Tough Strategy: Saying ‘No’ to Developers," 20 Nov. 2019 Steps could be as simple as street sweeping or as complicated as reexamining zoning in flood-prone areas, Webster said. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "How will climate change affect your hometown? This new tool helps you find out.," 13 Nov. 2019 There's no end in sight for firefighters, or for homeowners living in fire-prone areas. Carter Evans, CBS News, "California fire insurance premiums pricing out homeowners," 1 Nov. 2019 Structures were burning on Faught Road as well as Shiloh Ridge, where palatial estates sit on spacious lots in a fire-prone area. Sarah Ravani,, "Kincade Fire won’t let up — homes burn as flames rage toward areas hit by 2017 disaster," 28 Oct. 2019 The incident illustrates the risks faced by prisoners in flood-prone areas, risks that could be elevated in coastal areas due to sea level rise. Will Meyer, Longreads, "A Green New Jail," 24 Oct. 2019 Governmental authorities have realized that residents in flood-prone areas must be educated to take responsibility for their own well-being, Tsuboki says, but ordinary citizens have limited understanding of flooding. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "Deadly typhoon forces Japan to face its vulnerability to increasingly powerful storms," 22 Oct. 2019 Like the fabled blind men groping toward an image of an elephant, our results are prone to be piecemeal and distorted. David Von Drehle, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Cokie Roberts was the best kind of D.C. insider," 18 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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Time Traveler for prone

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prone

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Prone.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for prone


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


\ 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 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

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).


to constrict the range or activity of

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