noun ten·den·cy \ ˈten-dən(t)-sē \
|Updated on: 15 Jul 2018

Definition of tendency

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

Examples of tendency in a Sentence

  1. The economy has shown a general tendency toward inflation.

  2. a tendency to drop things

Recent Examples of tendency from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of tendency

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

TENDENCY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of tendency for English Language Learners

  • : 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

TENDENCY Defined for Kids


noun ten·den·cy \ ˈten-dən-sē \

Definition of tendency for Students

plural tendencies
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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