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


aptness, proneness, tendency, way

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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

From romantic relationships to career opportunities, most people struggle with a propensity towards overeagerness. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Forget Romance, Is Playing Hard to Get the Key to Professional Success?," 4 June 2019 The owner of the eye is our narrator, Addison Gerhardt, a tall, placid boy with a propensity for freezing in rigid panic when he is pushed out of his comfort zone. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Survivors and Strivers," 18 Oct. 2018 The post went on to address some things that have been bothering her lately, like her propensity to compare herself to other women. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Hailey Baldwin Opens Up About Feeling Insecure in an Intense Instagram Post Amid Rumors of Marriage Trouble with Justin Bieber," 7 Jan. 2019 That sounds hopelessly elitist in our egalitarian era, but Twitter is the ludicrous conclusion of the propensity Jeffrey lamented. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "For Sanity’s Sake, Delete Your Account," 18 Jan. 2019 With speed, a wealth of skills and a propensity to make big plays, Dallas Kaauwai was a player who was not easily overlooked on the soccer field this past season for the Crescenta Valley High boys' team. Jeff Tully,, "All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year: Crescenta Valley's Kaauwai was not to be overlooked," 23 Apr. 2018 And in the meantime, surgeons are bettering our odds by screening to evaluate patients’ propensity for clots, encouraging the use of compression garments during and after surgery, and prescribing blood thinners when necessary. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "Life in Plastic: A Complete Guide to the "Mommy Makeover"," 16 July 2018 This propensity to save, undimmed despite years of rock-bottom interest rates, and the government’s own budget surpluses are among the reasons for Germany’s high current-account surplus. Andrea Thomas, WSJ, "Germany to Cut Public-Sector Investment as Welfare Spending Rises," 2 May 2018 Given Netflix's propensity for keeping shows on a schedule, a January release is fairly likely for Grace & Frankie's sixth season, giving fans plenty of time to catch up on the show's back catalog. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Grace and Frankie," 27 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for propensity

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for propensity

The first known use of propensity was in 1570

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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.

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Comments on propensity

What made you want to look up propensity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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