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tendency

[ten-duh n-see]
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noun, plural ten·den·cies.
  1. 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.
  2. an inclination, bent, or predisposition to something: a tendency to talk too much.
  3. a special and definite purpose in a novel or other literary work.
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Origin of tendency

From the Medieval Latin word tendentia, dating back to 1620–30. See tend1, -ency
Related formscoun·ter·tend·en·cy, noun, plural coun·ter·tend·en·cies.

Synonyms

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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tendency

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I freely say that the tendency of my thought, based on observation, is to conservatism.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • This tendency is in every one of us; but in some of us more than in others.

  • That Hester had a tendency to high church had little or nothing to do with the matter.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He was sorry to see this tendency to aristocracy on the part of members.

  • Now the tendency in France seems to be to go back to the monoplane.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell


British Dictionary definitions for tendency

tendency

noun plural -cies
  1. (often foll by to) an inclination, predisposition, propensity, or leaningshe has a tendency to be frivolous; a tendency to frivolity
  2. the general course, purport, or drift of something, esp a written work
  3. a faction, esp one within a political partythe militant tendency
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Word Origin

C17: from Medieval Latin tendentia, from Latin tendere to tend 1
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

Word Origin and History for tendency

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper