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 Still, his tendency to drive climaxes to the maximum marred the reading. New York Times, "A Star Pianist Brings Soft-Spoken Virtuosity to Scriabin," 28 Nov. 2019 One of Corbyn’s telling characteristics is his seeming passiveness, his tendency to shrink at vital moments. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Can Jeremy Corbyn Lose the British Election and Still Win?," 26 Nov. 2019 This includes finally breaking with its tendency to over-engineer its financial statements and prioritize optics over reality. Washington Post, "GE’s New CFO Lacks ‘Wow’ Factor and That’s Fine," 25 Nov. 2019 But Kitchens exploited the Dolphins’ inaccurate assumption by countering his own tendencies, a sign of an evolving play-caller, which Browns fans should be encouraged about. cleveland, "Cleveland teases Nick Chubb the receiver in win over Dolphins; unlocking him in passing game is key going forward," 24 Nov. 2019 These distinctions have been an aid to our own tendency as players to compartmentalize things, too. Nick Capozzoli, Ars Technica, "How Modern Warfare smooths over the horrors of war," 22 Nov. 2019 How Trump came to believe that the Pentagon could not handle the cases fairly, and ultimately issue the pardons, reflects his tendency to accept the advice of people outside his administration. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Insurgents’ lobbied Trump for war crimes pardons with little Pentagon involvement, officials say," 22 Nov. 2019 His tendency to hold onto the ball and buy time in hopes of hitting the big play gives the pass rush time to get home. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 20 things to watch in monumental Thursday night matchup between Colts and Texans," 20 Nov. 2019 Cashner did show interesting bullpen potential once moved out of the rotation, as his homer-prone tendencies as a Red Sox starter did not carry into relief. BostonGlobe.com, "How should Chaim Bloom approach changing the Red Sox bullpen? - The Boston Globe," 18 Nov. 2019

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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tendency.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tendency?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=tenden01. Accessed 16 December 2019.

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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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Comments on tendency

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


having a smooth flowing sound

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