Definition of tendency in US English:


nounPlural tendencies

  • 1An inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior.

    ‘for students, there is a tendency to socialize in the evenings’
    ‘criminal tendencies’
    • ‘Research has shown that we have a tendency to eat more when it is darker.’
    • ‘If we have to keep this going, we will have to control the tendency to burst out laughing.’
    • ‘He attacked the tendency for rights to outweigh citizens' sense of responsibility.’
    • ‘Heavy drinkers can show violent tendencies and personal relationships may suffer as a result.’
    • ‘I have a bad tendency to move on to the new cool project and leave other projects behind.’
    • ‘The human race has a pervasive tendency towards religious conviction.’
    • ‘He showed suicidal tendencies.’
    • ‘Tendencies towards autocracy seem embedded in the country's political culture.’
    • ‘Our libertarian tendency supports the free flow of information.’
    • ‘His tendency to spend was a problem from the start.’
    • ‘A dreary trait of actors is their tendency to gush about the great privilege it was to work with each other.’
    • ‘You are pessimistic and have a tendency to behave negatively.’
    • ‘She does have a tendency to get involved if she sees a fight.’
    • ‘I have a tendency to scratch vigorously behind my right knee when distracted.’
    • ‘Young children have a tendency to put just about anything in their mouths.’
    • ‘Life has an inherent tendency to be novel and spontaneously creative.’
    • ‘He has a tendency to be ruthless when he has tired of a girlfriend.’
    • ‘We are a country with very real isolationist tendencies.’
    • ‘There was a growing tendency among city dwellers to install power showers instead of baths.’
    • ‘My hair has a tendency to frizz up and stick out over my ears.’
    propensity, proclivity, proneness, aptness, likelihood, inclination, disposition, predisposition, bent, leaning, penchant, predilection, susceptibility, liability
    trend, movement, drift, swing, gravitation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A group within a larger political party or movement.
      ‘the dominant tendency in the party remained right-wing’
      • ‘I think it would be a stunningly bad idea to give in to the threats of the anarchist tendency.’
      • ‘Tito and his Communist regime acted sternly to suppress nationalist tendencies.’
      • ‘Their union had right-wing tendencies and had clashed with larger left-wing unions.’
      • ‘All of these tendencies had their impact on the political orientation of the Fourth International.’
      • ‘Numerous left tendencies advanced this theory.’
      • ‘These political tendencies are expected to register gains in the coming election.’
      • ‘That inner war between rival tendencies is expressed in labour movements.’
      • ‘He acted with extreme brutality against separatist tendencies in the Caucasus.’
      • ‘Two political tendencies emerged during this period of rampant anti-Semitism.’
      • ‘Speakers from these tendencies sharply attacked the planned collaboration with him.’
      • ‘The wavering on the part of these tendencies explains the sharp turns undertaken by certain politicians.’
      • ‘Other tendencies or parties will prevail and hold the movement back.’
      • ‘The Bolshevik Party always had rightist, compromising tendencies and ultra-left tendencies.’
      • ‘Each of the tendencies aims at a different sector of the political spectrum.’


Early 17th century: from medieval Latin tendentia, from tendere ‘to stretch’ (see tend).