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[ten-duh n-see] /ˈtɛn dən si/
noun, plural tendencies.
a natural or prevailing disposition to move, proceed, or act in some direction or toward some point, end, or result:
the tendency of falling bodies toward the earth.
an inclination, bent, or predisposition to something:
a tendency to talk too much.
a special and definite purpose in a novel or other literary work.
Origin of tendency
From the Medieval Latin word tendentia, dating back to 1620-30. See tend1, -ency
Related forms
countertendency, noun, plural countertendencies.
2. proclivity, leaning.
Synonym Study
1. Tendency, direction, trend, drift refer to inclination or line of action or movement. A tendency is an inclination toward a certain line of action (whether or not the action follows), and is often the result of inherent qualities, nature, or habit: a tendency to procrastinate. Direction is the line along which an object or course of action moves, often toward some set point or intended goal: The change is in the direction of improvement. Trend emphasizes simultaneous movement in a certain direction of a number of factors, although the course or goal may not be clear for any single feature: Business indicators showed a downward trend. Drift emphasizes gradual development as well as direction: the drift of his argument. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tendency
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The tendency which falsifies judgement in this respect is that of idealisation.

  • All the higher religions show a tendency to degenerate back to it.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Every abridgment of ceremony has a tendency to lower refinement by introducing that sans-gne which is fatal to good manners.

    Human Intercourse Philip Gilbert Hamerton
  • The tendency, which is our main concern, is a matter of fact to be gathered from the cases.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Thus even in Ethics there is now perceptible in some quarters a tendency to repudiate the normative standpoint.

    The Group Mind William McDougall
British Dictionary definitions for tendency


noun (pl) -cies
(often foll by to) an inclination, predisposition, propensity, or leaning: she has a tendency to be frivolous, a tendency to frivolity
the general course, purport, or drift of something, esp a written work
a faction, esp one within a political party: the militant tendency
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin tendentia, from Latin tendere to tend1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tendency

1620s, from Medieval Latin tendentia "inclination, leaning," from Latin tendens, present participle of tendere "to stretch, aim" (see tenet). Earlier in same sense was tendaunce (mid-15c.), from Old French tendance.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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