The Meaning of Prone: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of prone? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word prone, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word prone mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Cambridge English Dictionary, the adjective prone (pronounced proʊn) has two possible meanings. First, the word prone can mean susceptible, or likely to have a certain negative characteristic. For example, one can be accident-prone, injury-prone, or prone to illness. The word prone can also mean that someone is lying down. This is referred to as the prone position. This versatile word can be used in many different contexts and scenarios in American English.  The adverb form of the word is pronely. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today!

Many different languages also contain words that mean the word prone, in both definitions. However, unlike in the English language, other languages often do not share the same word for the two definitions of prone. You may notice that some of these translations look and sound similar to each other. These cognates are often formed when two words have the same or a similar root language such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word prone is provided by Word Sense

Prone (adj.) – lying downwards

  • Spanish: postrado‎ (masc.), de bruces‎, decúbito prono‎
  • Greek: πρηνής‎
  • Occitan: amorrat‎, abocat‎
  • Maori: tāpapa‎
  • German: in Bauchlage‎
  • Norwegian: legge seg flat‎
  • Russian: лежа́щий ничко́м‎, (лежа́щий) лицо́м вниз‎
  • French: couché sur le ventre‎
  • Finnish: rähmällään‎, vatsallaan‎, kasvoillaan‎

Prone (adj.) – predisposed

  • Finnish: altistettu‎, altistunut‎; taipuvainen‎, altis‎
  • German: anfällig‎, geneigt‎
  • Swedish: benägen‎
  • Russian: скло́нный‎, предрасполо́женный‎
  • Portuguese: propenso‎
  • Spanish: propenso‎
  • French: prédisposé‎, enclin‎
  • Catalan: predisposat‎, propens‎, procliu‎
  • Occitan: enclin‎, portat a‎, predispausat‎

What is the origin of the word prone?

According to Etymonline, the word prone has been used since the year 1400 to mean inclined to do something. This comes from the Latin pronus meaning leaning forward or bent over, and is used figuratively meaning inclined in one way or another. This is possible from the adverb form of pro meaning before or for. The word prone has been used to mean bending forward, face down since the 1570s, and in a larger sense to mean lying flat since the 1690s. Related words include pronation, proneness, and pronate. 

What are synonyms for the word prone?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word prone, for both its different definitions. It can be useful to know synonyms, which are words that have the same definition as another word or phrase, in this case because it can help eliminate any confusion between the two definitions of the word. Additionally, knowing synonyms can help people avoid repeating themselves as well as help people expand their vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word prone is provided by Thesaurus.

Prone (adj.) – lying downwards

  • slumber
  • take ten
  • horizontal
  • recline
  • procumbent
  • face down
  • unlax
  • unbend
  • put feet up
  • supine
  • reclining
  • laze
  • sit down
  • relax
  • doze
  • stretched out
  • flat on one’s back
  • lie still
  • decumbent
  • let down
  • resupine
  • level
  • recumbent
  • loll
  • take a nap
  • be at ease
  • idle
  • take it easy
  • dream
  • wind down
  • snooze
  • loaf
  • refresh oneself
  • slack
  • repose
  • breathe
  • let up
  • take life easy
  • nap
  • take five
  • lounge
  • nod
  • drowse
  • prostrate
  • ease off
  • flat
  • slack off
  • spell
  • ease up
  • stretch out
  • compose oneself
  • lie down
  • lie by
  • lean
  • take time out
  • take a break
  • slacken
  • be comfortable
  • unwind

Prone (adj.) – predisposed

  • ready
  • likely
  • soft
  • tending
  • movable
  • given
  • out on a limb
  • impressed
  • predisposed
  • mark
  • eager
  • liable
  • minded
  • easily moved
  • sensile
  • biased
  • devoted
  • inclined
  • swallow
  • touched
  • sitting duck
  • disposed
  • impressible
  • subject
  • exposed
  • agreeable
  • susceptible
  • vulnerable
  • bent
  • impressionable
  • pushover
  • sensible
  • easy
  • be taken in
  • susceptive
  • sensitive
  • wide open
  • apt
  • persuadable
  • given to
  • responsive
  • fain
  • tumble for
  • aroused
  • tender
  • fall for
  • suggestible
  • open
  • willing
  • nonresistant
  • amenable
  • receptive
  • swayed
  • sentient
  • stirred
  • partial
  • sucker
  • affected
  • obnoxious
  • presidposed
  • gullible
  • enthusiastic
  • roused
  • influenced

How can the word prone be used in a sentence?

The word prone can be used in a couple of different ways in the English language since it has two different definitions. In this first example, the word prone will be used to mean lying flat. In this example, Lara’s boyfriend has just broken up with her. Her friend Gemma and roommate Kelsey comfort her.

Gemma: Hey. Is she alright?

Kelsey: Yeah, she’s lying prone on the couch watching Dirty Dancing – the first step to recovery!

Gemma: That’s good to hear. Lara, you alright?

Lara: No. 

Here, Kelsey describes Lara as lying prone. We can infer that Lara is lying down on the couch. In this next example, the word prone will be used to mean susceptible or predisposed to. Gemma has not stopped sneezing since entering the apartment.

Kelsey: Gemma, are you okay? Your eyes are all red.

Gemma: Yeah, I’m prone to allergies. It’s weird though, I’ve never gotten them here before, and it only happens around dogs.

Kelsey: Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I’ve been dog sitting for the past week and I haven’t vacuumed yet. 

Here, Gemma uses the word prone to show that she is susceptible to sneezing fits and allergies. These are two different examples of the way that the word prone can be used in two different contexts. This versatile word is common in the English language.

Overall, the word prone is an adjective with two possible definitions. First, it can refer to something or someone that is lying down flat. Second, it can refer to someone who is likely to do something, or someone who is more susceptible than others to something. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/prone
  2. https://www.wordsense.eu/prone/
  3. https://www.etymonline.com/word/prone#etymonline_v_2672
  4. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/prone
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prone