ten·​den·​cy | \ ˈten-dən(t)-sē How to pronounce tendency (audio) \
plural tendencies

Definition of tendency

1a : a proneness to a particular kind of thought or action
b : direction or approach toward a place, object, effect, or limit
2a : the purposeful trend of something written or said : aim
b : deliberate but indirect advocacy

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Choose the Right Synonym for tendency

tendency, trend, drift, tenor, current mean movement in a particular direction. tendency implies an inclination sometimes amounting to an impelling force. a general tendency toward inflation trend applies to the general direction maintained by a winding or irregular course. the long-term trend of the stock market is upward drift may apply to a tendency determined by external forces the drift of the population away from large cities or it may apply to an underlying or obscure trend of meaning or discourse. got the drift of her argument tenor stresses a clearly perceptible direction and a continuous, undeviating course. the tenor of the times current implies a clearly defined but not necessarily unalterable course. an encounter that changed the current of my life

Examples of tendency in a Sentence

The economy has shown a general tendency toward inflation. a tendency to drop things
Recent Examples on the Web The administration's tendency to go after big fish means U.S. markets remain appealing to Chinese firms that don't fit that bill. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "Some Chinese firms are unfazed by worsening U.S. relations—a fintech unicorn’s IPO is the latest proof," 13 Oct. 2020 But Tsitsipas has shown a tendency to crumple with victory in sight since the restart of the tour in August. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Djokovic and Kenin Push Through to French Open Semifinals," 7 Oct. 2020 Ever since the dust settled in November following Trump’s surprise victory, there’s been an uncomfortable sense that the media’s tendency toward horse-race coverage aided and abetted a surprise attack by America’s foremost foreign adversary. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "The Right Way to Cover Hacks and Leaks Before the Election," 7 Oct. 2020 Cunningham has led Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in public polling for months despite North Carolina's tendency to support GOP candidates in federal statewide contests. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "McConnell super PAC hits Cunningham in North Carolina over sexting scandal," 6 Oct. 2020 Beta refers to a stock’s tendency to rise or fall along with the broad market. Mark Hulbert, WSJ, "The Right Time to Buy High-Beta Stocks," 5 Oct. 2020 The Sunday practice was maybe Texas' best with accountability galore, Herman said, acknowledging a tendency to hyperbole. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Losing to TCU tasted bad, but Tom Herman and the Longhorns aren’t panicking ahead of Red River Showdown," 5 Oct. 2020 This Archie update is in line with a funny habit recently reported by royal journalist Omid Scobie—a tendency to crash his parents' video calls. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Says Archie "Keeps Us on Our Toes" in Rare Update," 4 Oct. 2020 That tendency to drive a wedge is going to bite Trump, Wright said. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Climate question catches young voters' attention during presidential debate, but the answers didn't impress," 2 Oct. 2020

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

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for tendency

borrowed from Medieval Latin tendentia, noun derivative of Latin tendent-, tendens, present participle of tendere "to extend outward, stretch, spread out, direct (one's course), aim (at a purpose)" (Medieval Latin, "to lead toward, move in a particular direction") — more at tender entry 3

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Time Traveler for tendency

Time Traveler

The first known use of tendency was in 1628

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Statistics for tendency

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tendency.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tendency. Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for tendency


How to pronounce tendency (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tendency

: a quality that makes something likely to happen or that makes someone likely to think or behave in a particular way
: a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common


ten·​den·​cy | \ ˈten-dən-sē How to pronounce tendency (audio) \
plural tendencies

Kids Definition of tendency

1 : a leaning toward a particular kind of thought or action Elizabeth had a tendency to worry about things like not having permission.— Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Egypt Game
2 : a way of doing something that is becoming more common : trend

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