n. pl. ten·den·cies
a. A characteristic likelihood: fabric that has a tendency to wrinkle.
b. A predisposition to think, act, or proceed in a particular way: his tendency to exaggerate.
c. A characteristic pattern or point of view: the book's tendency to oversimplify events.
2. Movement or prevailing movement in a given direction: observed the tendency of the wind; the shoreward tendency of the current.
[Medieval Latin tendentia, from Latin tendēns, tendent-, present participle of tendere, to tend; see TEND1.]
Synonyms: tendency, trend, current, drift, tenor
These nouns refer to the direction or course of an action or thought. Tendency implies a predisposition to proceed in a particular way: "The tendency of our own day is ... towards firm, solid, verifiable knowledge" (William H. Mallock).
Trend often applies to a general or prevailing direction, especially within a particular sphere: "What makes time an arrow is entropy, the coming apart of all things, the universal trend toward disorder" (Jennifer Ackerman).
Current suggests a course or flow, as of opinion, especially one representative of a given time or place: "the whole current of modern feeling" (James Bryce).
A drift is a tendency that seems driven by a current of events: a drift toward anarchy as the government collapsed. Tenor implies a general or ongoing course: "The tempo, the tenor of life on the mountain and around the mine began to change" (Anita Desai).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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