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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
1620-30; < Medieval Latin tendentia. See tend1, -ency
Related forms
countertendency, noun, plural countertendencies.
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. 2. proclivity, leaning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tendency
  • And then there is my tendency to garden with plants that are on the edge of what my climate will allow.
  • There is a tendency for people to look at puppetry as a metaphor for manipulation, for taking away someone's will or autonomy.
  • And you will see that this tendency is reflected in our content.
  • Constant apprehension of war has the tendency to render the head too large for the body.
  • But their tendency to make mischief when misapplied along with other measures is great.
  • Even remedies of a right tendency have become discredited because of the failure of a timid and vacillating application of them.
  • Here he exhibited a tendency that would come to define him.
  • Miraculously, they retained it in a community and in a world whose easiest tendency was guns.
  • And yet set against this whole legacy is another tendency, equally as compelling.
  • We of the profession of education have had a strong tendency to welcome with open arms any and every new task offered us.
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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