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 Humans have a propensity to relax and shift priorities once calamities are over. Shadreck Chirikure, Quartz Africa, "How ancient African societies used social distancing to manage pandemics," 18 May 2020 One thing to be aware of, if the golden is on your shortlist, is that the breed has a propensity for developing certain cancers. Tom Davis, Field & Stream, "6 Hunting Dogs that Make Good House Dogs," 15 May 2020 Someone who has a propensity to become a serial killer and then gets out in 25 or 30 years? John Caniglia, cleveland, "Ohio lawmakers seek to stop sentences of life without parole for youth offenders," 22 Mar. 2020 One of the things that most upsets fashion people about Mr. Abloh’s rise is his propensity for fetishizing the shortcut. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Is Virgil Abloh the Karl Lagerfeld for Millennials?," 26 Feb. 2020 Our propensity for friendship (like our susceptibility to loneliness) is significantly genetic, like almost everything else about us, and thus heritable. WSJ, "‘Friendship’ Review: Let’s Get Together," 24 Jan. 2020 Mims also performed well in the jumps, posting a 38.5-inch vertical (84th percentile) and 10-foot-11 broad jump (94th percentile), which makes sense given his propensity to make difficult catches above the rim during his time at Baylor (above clip). John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 5 possible Cowboys draft targets who impressed at the NFL combine, including one WR who stole the show," 29 Feb. 2020 After all, the Vikings have showed a propensity to cave in on themselves in the past. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, "Can the Vikings win with a run-heavy scheme? Or is it pulling them apart?," 4 Oct. 2019 These viruses’ propensity for such jumps was underlined in 2012, when another virus jumped from camels to humans, causing MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Simon Makin, Scientific American, "How Coronaviruses Cause Infection—from Colds to Deadly Pneumonia," 5 Feb. 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

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The first known use of propensity was in 1570

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Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Propensity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for propensity


How to pronounce propensity (audio)

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.

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