Each person has their own physiological sense of smell or taste, which makes them like some foods and hate others (e.g. my family thinks durians smell like heaven, my chem teacher finds them nauseating). Their body make-up is also unique which makes them susceptible to certain diseases, while immune to others (e.g. some have deadly allergies, while others almost never get sick). What would be the proper term or phrase to refer to that uniqueness? Could it be "physiological make-up" or something, like "genetic/psychological make-up"?

  • 1
    unique .... as you have used it!
    – lbf
    Nov 3 '18 at 14:27
  • If you want to get really biological, "phenotype". It's the expression of the genes that decides... well, everything. Of course God or something similar may step in to fine tune occasionally, who knows. Though "phenotype" includes everything, including morphology, although you seem to be hinting at this idea with ""genetic/psychological make-up"
    – Zebrafish
    Nov 3 '18 at 18:16
  • "Everyone's different."
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 4 '18 at 12:57

Dictionaries tend to define proclivity as...

  • the fact that someone likes something or likes to do something, especially something considered morally wrong

...but there are 1,670 hits in Google Books for the collocation proclivity to disease - hardly morally wrong, and certainly nothing that anyone would like to have.

In light of that, I think it's quite reasonable to use [personal] proclivities to refer to an individual's unique personal susceptibilities and innate predispositions as well as their preferences.

As implied above, there's also predisposition, defined by Cambridge Dictionary as the state of being likely to behave in a particular way or to suffer from a particular disease. In which context it's worth comparing these two usages for relative prevalence...

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  • Oh hey, predisposition is a quite a good one actually. I'll go with that for my translation. Thanks. Nov 3 '18 at 14:53
  • 1
    Not so sure about this, it seems to miss the whole emphasis on uniqueness. E.g. out of 7 billion people on the planet, I'd think nearly all of them have a proclivity to become hungry if they haven't eaten.
    – JDM-GBG
    Nov 3 '18 at 15:38
  • 1
    @JDM-GBG: That's hardly an argument. The fact that nearly everyone would prefer not to die of malnutrition doesn't invalidate the idea of describing the relatively few anorexics as having a proclivity to starvation. Nov 3 '18 at 17:11
  • @Vun-Hugh Vaw: I thought about that when writing my final sentence above, but discarded it because - partly because it seemed to me that personal predisposition was even more closely associated with "preference" over "susceptibility" than personal] proclivity. But mainly because I'd already made my choice and didn't want to faff about rephrasing what I'd already written. Whatever - having just done a relevant NGram search, I think I'll include the results chart... Nov 3 '18 at 17:20

This one is focused primarily on behavior and personality (including likes and dislikes), not so much the medical aspect. But anyway:


noun, plural in·di·vid·u·al·i·ties.

  1. the particular character, or aggregate of qualities, that distinguishes one person or thing from others; sole and personal nature: a person of marked individuality.

  2. individualities, individual characteristics.

  3. a person or thing of individual or distinctive character.


As in, "Our individuality can be a great strength if we learn to approach our differences with respect and courtesy."


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