Disposition: a person's usual way of feeling or behaving; the tendency of a person to be happy, friendly, anxious, etc.

I just want to ask if native speakers use this word in daily life? I want to use it, but I do not want to sound weird if it is not common to use.

Is it okay to say, "Depending on people's dispositions, they interpret the events different?" Or is there a sentence that makes more sense by using this word?

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  • I apologize for the misguiding title. I was planning to post two words: one is junction and the other one is disposition. I've just recognized that I titled my post using the word "junction" instead of using the word "disposition". Sorry about the confusion. – Hizli Cublumbaga Jun 18 '17 at 19:15
  • I've corrected the title, Hizli Cublumbaga – Colin Fine Jun 18 '17 at 19:16

It's something of a learned word. I might use it that way in speech, but many people would not.

And I would say "they interpret the events differently"

  • Thanks so much for the explanation. Then, I will try to use "nature" or "character" instead of "disposition" so that I would not sound weird. – Hizli Cublumbaga Jun 18 '17 at 19:25
  • @HizliCublumbaga it all depends on the context - it might be more appropriate to say disposition in some situations (formal events). There's nothing really wrong with sounding intelligent! (although accidentally sounding pretentious is something to avoid) – marcellothearcane Jun 18 '17 at 20:32

Yes, it is an everyday expression of a person who tries to speak English in an elegant and thoughtful way. It derives from the verb dispose - OED sense 6b of which means:

6b. To impart a physical tendency or inclination to; pa. pple. inclined, liable: see disposed adj. 5. Also absol.

The noun disposition has a plethora of senses, but the important one here is sense 6:

  1. Natural tendency or bent of the mind, esp. in relation to moral or social qualities; mental constitution or temperament; turn of mind. Possibly of astrological origin: cf. the description of dispositions as saturnine, jovial, martial, venereal, mercurial.

▸a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1871) III. 113 Nouȝt by chaungynge of body, but by chaungynge of disposicioun of wit and of semynge.

1393 J. Gower Confessio Amantis III. 19 After the disposition Of glotony and dronkeship.

1475 Bk. Noblesse 51 If suche prophesies and influence of the seide constellacions might be trew, yet..havyng a clene soule, may turne the contrarie disposicion that jugement of constellacion or prophesies signified.

1576 A. Fleming tr. Hippocrates in Panoplie Epist. 266 Men of honeste and vertuous disposition.

1678 N. Wanley Wonders Little World v. ii. §81. 472/2 A man he was of a fierce, bloody, and faithless disposition.

1779 J. Moore View Society & Manners France (1789) I. xvii. 128
Congenial with the phlegm and saturnine dispositions of the English.

1837 W. Whewell Hist. Inductive Sci. I. 136 The belief..that the motions of the stars, and the dispositions and fortunes of men, may come under some common conceptions and laws.

1841 G. P. R. James Brigand i His disposition was naturally cheerful and bright.

  • 1
    I'd add to these examples its use in pop lyrics, even by such elegant and thoughtful artists as The Rolling Stones: lyrics.com/lyrics/disposition – G Tony Jacobs Jun 18 '17 at 20:52
  • @GTonyJacobs Well I didn't go quite so far as Colin Fine, in describing it as "a learned word" - but I note he has been significantly up-voted! – WS2 Jun 19 '17 at 5:46

The context in which I most often see the word disposition used, even in fairly casual contexts, is when discussing children. For example, in


You can't predict the weather when you are out there hiking, but you can predict your kid's disposition if the weather gets bad. (Advertising copy for a baby backpack rain cover)

Parenting advice:

Those first signs of your new baby's disposition are usually right! It isn't just your imagination—she really does have preferences from the first moment. (Holly Engel-Smothers & Susan M. Heim, Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power, 2008)

And conversation between parents:

There are always lots of kiddos being carried or on the side crying, so it depends on your DD's disposition, the day itself, your willingness to deal with it or carry her, etc. (Discussion board response to "Kids and Races: What Age?", Sept. 11, 2014; "DD" usually stands for "dear daughter" in these discussions)

Perhaps not coincidentally, it also shows up in descriptions of pets. For example, from the American Kennel Club:

The Airedale has a sweet disposition, but when challenged, is not afraid to stand up for himself.

And from the UK's Kennel Club:

Siberian Husky Breed Standards
Characteristics: Medium size, moderate bone, well balanced proportions, ease and freedom of movement, and good disposition.

As a result of seeing it used this way so often it no longer feels particularly formal to me. However, I still might hesitate just a bit in using it to describe adult humans, for fear that I might bring to mind babies or dog breed descriptions. Of course, folks who don't often discuss or read about small children or dog breeds probably wouldn't have those associations.

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