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

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
Recent Examples on the Web Most know about Berry’s propensity for five-star recruits. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, 26 Apr. 2022 For example, agreeable people are generally more willing to trust strangers, and extreme agreeableness results in a propensity to be overly naïve and trust the wrong person. Tomas Chamorro-premuzic, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 That’s left Bass scrambling to shore up lower propensity but more left-leaning voters. Eli Stokolsstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2022 Khloé then interrupts with a jab, one alluding to Scott’s propensity for dating near-teenagers and early twenty-somethings in his late thirties. ELLE, 14 Apr. 2022 What makes the media world different from these social channels, however, is consumers’ propensity to wield multiple devices as part of a single viewing experience. Sughosh Narayan, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Williams, 5-11, can score in many ways and propensity for steals with her active hands. Shreyas Laddha, Hartford Courant, 10 Apr. 2022 Both likely contribute to his propensity for misinformation and miscalculation. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 29 Mar. 2022 Biden was largely successful in reversing his propensity for gaffes during his 2020 election bid, during a campaign robbed of spontaneous moments by the Covid-19 pandemic. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 28 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of propensity

1570, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for propensity

borrowed from New Latin prōpensitāt-, prōpensitās, from Latin prōpensus "weighted down, inclined, having a disposition or tendency" + -itāt-, -itās -ity — more at propense

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The first known use of propensity was in 1570

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Propensity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for propensity


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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