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Prone vs Supine (Differences: All You Need To Know)

What is the difference between Prone vs Supine?

How do you define these terms?

How do they compare?

You must read this, so keep reading as I have exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you what prone and supine mean in simple terms!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Difference Between Prone vs Supine

Are you wondering what is the difference between the words “prone” and “supine”?

I understand that the meaning can get confusing sometimes particularly when you are referring to the prone vs supine position of the body.

In this post, I will give you a clear and concise definition of what supine and prone mean and explain to you their differences.

Keep reading so you learn this once and for all!

Let’s first define each of the words prone and supine.

What Is Prone

Prone can have a couple of meanings depending on the context.

For example:

  • This type of airbag is prone to defects

For example:

  • Mary was lying prone on the floor

What Is Supine

The first meaning of supine is to refer to a person who is lying face upward.

For example:

  • Mary was lying supine on the floor 

For example:

  • John remained supine in the face of adversity 

Main Differences

There are many reasons why you confuse the terms prone vs supine is when they are trying to refer to how your body is positioned.

Prone and Supine Physical Definition 

If you want to say that someone is lying flat on their back and facing up, you’ll say supine.

If you want to say that someone is lying on their stock and facing down, you’ll say prone.

As a result, a person lying prone is a person facing downwards whereas a person lying supine is a person facing upwards.

Prone and Supine Non-Physical Definition

Both “prone” and “supine” have an alternative meaning that is not related to an anatomical or body position.

Prone’s alternative meaning is that something is vulnerable to, may exhibit certain traits, or may act in a certain way.

Supine’s alternative meaning is that someone or something is exhibiting traits of weakness or passiveness.

Prone vs Supine Comparison Table

ProneSupine
MeaningMeaning 1: Anatomical 

Prone means to lie flat with your face down  

Meaning 2: Alternate 

Prone means to be vulnerable to or susceptible to something
Meaning 1: Anatomical 

Supine means to lie on your back or with your face up

Meaning 2: Alternate

Supine means that a person is weak or does not act due to indolence
SynonymsSusceptible 
Vulnerable
Liable
Predisposed 

Or 

Flat
Horizontal
prostrate
Prostate 
Flat on one’s back
Horizontal 

Or

Weak
Yielding 
Enervated
Docile
Pronunciation/prōn//ˈso͞oˌpīn/
Related WordsOpen 
Inclined 
Subject 
Given

Or 
 
Upright 
Procumbent 
Upright
Spreadeagled 
Lying 
Sprawling 

Or 

Submissive 
Servile 
Passive 
Inert
OppositeResistant 
Immune

Or

Upright 
Supine
Erect 
Vertical

Or

Strong
Assertive

When To Use Prone vs Supine In A Sentence

The terms prone and supine are generally confused as to their meaning.

What does prone or supine mean exactly and when should you use it.

The terms prone and supine both refer to how your body can be positioned.

Using Prone

For example:

  • The doctor asked her to sleep in a prone position 

For example:

  • This type of dog is prone to writ injuries 

Using Supine

For example:

  • The doctor asked him to sleep in a supine position

For example:

  • The police remain supine in the face of the robbery 

Usage Tip

Here is a quick tip for you to remember which word to use in your written or oral communication.

If you want to refer to someone lying on their stomach with their face down, remember that the words “prone” and “down” both have the letter “o”.
On the other hand, if you want to refer to someone lying on their back with the face upward, remember that the words “supine’ and “up” both have the letter “u”.

Supine vs Prone Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

How do you distinguish between prone vs. prone?

The terms supine and prone have different meanings depending on the context.

From an anatomical perspective, prone position means to lie on your stomach face down and supine means to lie on your back face up.

The alternative non-physical meaning of prone and supine is as follows:

  • Prone means to be vulnerable to something, something to act in a certain way, or to experience something some way
  • Supine means to be weak or inert caused by moral weakness or indolence 

I hope that I have been able to clear up the confusion between the terms prone versus supine so you know what they mean and when to use them.

Good luck with your use of these terms!

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