ten·den·cy | \ ˈten-dən(t)-sē \
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

One Marvin Chester Stone, an owner of a paper cigarette-holder factory in Washington, D.C., at the end of the 19th century, did not approve of this tendency to disintegrate. Emelyn Rude, Time, "The Backlash Against Plastic Straws Is Spreading. Here’s How They Got So Popular in the First Place," 12 July 2018 Virginia Republicans’ choice of Corey Stewart to oppose Sen. Tim Kaine, for example, is a straight forward example of this tendency. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Power Rankings: Not so peachy primaries," 9 July 2018 Muddy Waters balanced both tendencies of the electric blues, conjuring the raw force of Howlin’ Wolf and also possessing the polish and sheen of BB King. John Adamian, courant.com, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 With that established, Atir and Ferguson turned to whether this tendency has consequences. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Why Curie’s no Einstein: A subtle gender bias in science," 29 June 2018 So, Trump has this tendency to want to personalize relationships between states. NBC News, "Meet the Press - May 27, 2018," 27 May 2018 In Peterson, this tendency is manifest in his deeply polarized view of gender. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Jordan Peterson’s Tired Old Myths," 21 May 2018 In the latter years of his dominance, Woods often missed fairways by a wide margin, especially on the first hole of his round; this tendency informed the title of Haney's book about Woods, The Big Miss. Michael Rosenberg, SI.com, "There Is Only One Tiger Woods," 3 Apr. 2018 In the industry, there's this codependent tendency to not take care of yourself, to take care of everybody else instead. Sean Brock, Bon Appetit, "Sean Brock on How Sobriety Changed the Way He Cooks," 3 Apr. 2018

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

Medieval Latin tendentia, from Latin tendent-, tendens, present participle of tendere

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Statistics for tendency

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tendency

The first known use of tendency was in 1628

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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 \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on tendency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tendency

Spanish Central: Translation of tendency

Nglish: Translation of tendency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tendency for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tendency

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alleviating pain or harshness

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