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

Synonyms for tendency


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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 So the Wolverines will win this game while using several plays intended to set up tendency breakers for the Ohio State game. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 20 Nov. 2021 The report also cited organizational dynamics, such as a failure to adhere to a traditional chain of command and a tendency to form cliques. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 19 Nov. 2021 At a news conference days after Chemirmir’s arrest, then-Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin acknowledged a tendency to assume the death of an older person is natural. Jamie Stengle, ajc, 12 Nov. 2021 At a news conference days after Chemirmir’s arrest, then-Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin acknowledged a tendency to assume the death of an older person is natural. Fox News, 12 Nov. 2021 And as director Shaka King told Indiewire in 2016, the industry’s tendency to prioritize white stars hinders the financial prospects of non-white films. Joseph Bien-kahn, Vulture, 10 Nov. 2021 The Vikings have shown a tendency to do very little on offense after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Steve Silverman, Forbes, 5 Nov. 2021 Pecans also have an unfortunate tendency to drop branches. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 5 Nov. 2021 Chao’s tendency for mixing vintage and her embrace of whimsy inevitably drew her to Michele’s Gucci, a dream for any fashion magpie. Davey Adésida; Styling By Haidee Findlay-levin, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 Nov. 2021

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

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The first known use of tendency was in 1628

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tendency.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tendency. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for tendency



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

More from Merriam-Webster on tendency

Nglish: Translation of tendency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tendency for Arabic Speakers


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