Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between Proclivity and Propensity

Proclivity vs Propensity

“Proclivity” and “propensity” are similar and synonymous words.   They just mean “a tendency.”

By definition, “proclivity” means “a natural tendency or inclination to behave in a certain specific way which is often objectionable or immoral.” In other words, it may be put as a strong, innate disposition towards something sinful or evil such as a democratic proclivity or a proclivity for violence. “Propensity” may be defined as “a habitual tendency or inclination” such as “a propensity to smoke.” As the meanings indicate, both “propensity” and “proclivity” are very similar words with similar meanings and are interchangeable.

As the two words are similar in meaning, their synonyms are also the same. These include: inclination, tendency, penchant, disposition, weakness, proneness, affinity, etc. In the same, way the two words share the antonyms also. The antonyms of “proclivity” and “propensity” are: disinclination, distaste, antipathy, and ineptitude.

“Proclivity” is derived from a Latin word “pro” and “clivus.” While “pro” means “forward,” “clivus” means “slope.” Thus the term has derived its meaning as “having an inclination” or “leaning towards” something. “Propensity” is also derived from the Latin word “prōpensus” which means “inclined to.”

Regardless of so many similarities, the two words “propensity” and “proclivity” have differences. The word “proclivity” differs from “propensity” as “proclivity” is used in “an innate, inborn, or natural tendency,” while “propensity” is used as a term describing “a general tendency.” “Proclivity” is used more when describing a negative inclination while “propensity” is used equally for a negative or positive inclination. The usage of the words in the language is different; however, the meaning of the two words is very similar.

Usage Examples of “Proclivity”:

  • He developed a tumor due to his proclivity for alcohol and nicotine.
  • For a person to succeed, he has to shun his proclivity for inertia.
  • You have to devise an adequate means to keep you from your proclivity towards violence.

Usage Examples of “Propensity”:

  • The white water rafters have a propensity towards a high risk involving adventure sports.
  • A must-have quality for a successful financial manager is to have a propensity to strike good, profit-making deals.
  • Jose has a propensity towards crime.
  • Steel is an alloy of iron which overcomes it greatest weakness which is its propensity to rust.

Another difference between “propensity” and “proclivity” is the degree of popularity. The word “propensity” has a far greater usage as compared to the word “proclivity.”

Summary:

  1. “Proclivity” and “propensity” have similar meanings.
  2. “Proclivity” is used more in a negative form while “propensity” finds equal usage in negative and positive forms.
  3. “Proclivity” is less popular in usage than “propensity.”

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for a great explanation.

    I do have a question:

    “The antonyms of “proclivity” and “propensity” are: disinclination, distaste, antipathy, and ineptitude.”

    Ineptitude? How do figure that as an antonym?

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