• prone •
pron • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Inclined, disposed, likely, liable, tending, having a proclivity, as 'prone to make mistakes'. 2. (Opposite of supine) Prostrate, lying face down, as 'in a prone position'.
Notes: In its first sense, today's word must be used with the preposition to, so it can only appear in predicate position. The second sense allows attributive position (before a noun) as in 'prone position'. This restriction does not prevent its use in a noun, proneness, or an adverb, pronely. This word may be used as a verb meaning "turn (from a supine) to a prone position", particularly popular in hospitals.
In Play: The first sense of this word expresses things like this: "Gladys Friday is more prone to error towards the end of the week." You will hear the word used in its second sense in expressions like: "Pete Moss gets a back pain which is alleviated by lying prone on the floor while a pretty woman walks on his spine."
Word History: Prone was borrowed from Latin pronus "bent forward, leaning forward", which already in Latin could be used figuratively to mean "inclined (to), disposed (to)". Pronus is an adjectival form of the adverb pro "before, forward, through" + -nus, an adjective ending as in infernus and externus. Latin pro is a metathesized version of PIE per/por "forward, through" which ended up in English as for, fore-, and far and German as für "for" and vor- "fore-". (At this point I am prone to offer gratitude for the recommendation for such an interesting Good Word, this one from our old friend, William Hupy.)
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