pro·​pen·​si·​ty | \ prə-ˈpen(t)-sə-tē How to pronounce propensity (audio) \
plural propensities

Definition of propensity

: an often intense natural inclination or preference

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Synonyms for propensity


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Choose the Right Synonym for propensity

leaning, propensity, proclivity, penchant mean a strong instinct or liking for something. leaning suggests a liking or attraction not strong enough to be decisive or uncontrollable. a student with artistic leanings propensity implies a deeply ingrained and usually irresistible inclination. a propensity to offer advice proclivity suggests a strong natural proneness usually to something objectionable or evil. a proclivity for violence penchant implies a strongly marked taste in the person or an irresistible attraction in the object. a penchant for taking risks

You'll Like the Etymology of Propensity

When it comes to synonyms of propensity, the letter "p" predominates. Proclivity, preference, penchant, and predilection all share with propensity the essential meaning of "a strong instinct or liking." Not every word that is similar in meaning to propensity begins with "p," however. Propensity comes from Latin propensus, the past participle of propendēre, a verb meaning "to incline" or "to hang forward or down." Thus leaning and inclination are as good synonyms of propensity as any of those "p"-words.

Examples of propensity in a Sentence

Other researches are exploring how the adolescent propensity for uninhibited risk taking propels teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol. — Claudia Wallis, Time, 10 May 2004 On the other hand, a jury might be convinced that a meth dealer who had brazenly fired a pistol through his door had a propensity for violence. — John Cloud, Time, 14 July 2003 A central tenet of this camp's proponents is that a considerable number of biological dispositions evolved during the Stone Age, including a male propensity for making war. — Bruce Bower, Science News, 27 Jan. 2001 He had a propensity for crime. the criminal propensities of the family extended over several generations
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Recent Examples on the Web The objective is to have the information to model a client's entire household — considering balance sheets, income statements, demographics, family structure and saving and spending propensity. Michael Raneri, Forbes, 4 June 2021 Organizers and volunteers have already texted 3.5 million women and aim to send 5 million texts in a single day on Saturday, focusing on low-propensity and lower-frequency voters, especially in the 18-to-25 age range, O’Leary Carmona said. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2020 Alex, the editor of the prostitution stories, had worked on a series in 2015 for the Tampa Bay Times about the propensity of Tampa police to cite certain bicyclists for trivial infractions like failing to keep both hands on the handlebars. Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica, 3 May 2021 The awareness of how problem-solving strategies are made in a company can increase the propensity for businesses to reverse the common trend of opting for complexity instead of simplification. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 17 Apr. 2021 The blood’s propensity to clot is highly regulated within the human body, but some medicines such as hormonal birth control pills can disrupt the process. Richard Bravo, Fortune, 18 Mar. 2021 As much of America continues to self-quarantine, the propensity to go stir crazy increases with each passing day. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, 12 Mar. 2021 The propensity of viruses to change has long vexed epidemiologists and scientists. Hal Dardick,, 9 Mar. 2021 Stevens said he is encouraged by Pritchard’s production but offered a joke about the rookie’s propensity of stepping-out-of-bounds. Gary Washburn,, 29 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propensity.' 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 propensity

1570, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for propensity

see propense

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Time Traveler for propensity

Time Traveler

The first known use of propensity was in 1570

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Statistics for propensity

Last Updated

20 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Propensity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for propensity



English Language Learners Definition of propensity

formal : a strong natural tendency to do something


pro·​pen·​si·​ty | \ prə-ˈpen-sə-tē How to pronounce propensity (audio) \

Kids Definition of propensity

: a natural tendency to do or favor something They have a propensity to chatter.

More from Merriam-Webster on propensity

Nglish: Translation of propensity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propensity for Arabic Speakers


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