• proclivity •
prê-kli-vi-tee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A natural, innate preference for something, a long-standing inclination, a gentle desire for.
Notes: The plural of today's word requires replacing the Y with an I: proclivities. A proclivity is not exactly an inclination. A proclivity is a natural, innate preference, while an inclination is any disposition in favor of something. You may have a momentary inclination to skip lunch, but a proclivity is a long-standing preference that is part of your character.
In Play: Here is an example that distinguishes a proclivity from an inclination: "Sally has a proclivity for Harley Davidson bikers, but at the party last night she had a strong inclination to leave the one she married." Just remember that a proclivity is something that contributes to your personality: "Noreen has a proclivity to exaggerate the misbehavior of the people she talks about."
Word History: Today's word came to English via French from Latin proclivitas, the noun from proclivis "inclined". It is made up of pro "forward" + clivus "slope". The Latin root cliv- comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *klei- "to lean, bend", found also in various verbs containing -clinare with the same meanings. This root turns up in English words borrowed from Latin, such as recline, incline, and decline. The same root entered Old English with the same -n suffix in hleonian "to lean", Modern English lean. We also find it with an old suffix -d in Old English hlid "cover", today's lid.