I heard in a YouTube clip a line repeated several times:

I have no inclination where they are right now.

I have no inclination of where she is.

I don't have no inclination of where she is.

Inclination means preference, tendency. But here it appears to mean idea/clue, as in I have no idea/clue where they are. Dictionaries don't have this meaning. Nor can I find a similar example sentence in dictionaries. What does it mean here exactly? Is the usage by the man in the video a mistake?

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    I think it's just a mistake. Before I listened to the clip, I presumed this was just a mistake for "inkling", as "I have no inkling" is a familiar (though old-fashioned) expression for "I have no idea". But he clearly isn't saying "inkling". – Colin Fine Jan 1 '19 at 21:16
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    I'm inclined to agree with Colin. It's a misuse of inkling. – Matt Jan 1 '19 at 21:30

This is an established use.

See also here ("I had an inclination where it had come from") or here ("without the slightest inclination of her whereabouts".)

or here:

The Poltergeist is about patience, planning, and high risk high reward gameplay. Being able to ambush survivors while they have no inclination of your whereabouts is a surefire way to shake up a game, especially if the survivors have NO IDEA the poltergeist is the chosen killer.

When someone has told us that they have no idea in which direction a person has gone, we might pursue the matter a little further and ask them to make an intelligent guess, based on whatever knowledge they may have to bring to bear on the question.

Well, which way would you lean? North? South?

That's what to lean means in this context, "to make an intelligent guess, based on whatever (small amount of) knowledge one may have or based on the probabilities."

And that's what to be inclined and to have an inclination means too.

I'm inclined to think they went South.

My inclination is that they went South.

I have no inclination where they went.

When a person says that they have no inclination, they mean that they cannot even begin to "lean" in one direction or the other. They have no information whatsoever that would lead them to think or favor one thing instead of another.

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  • Reason for the downvote? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 2 '19 at 11:14
  • I think this is the correct interpretation, but "I have no inclination" is clumsy and confusing, it sounds as if he is not in the mood to know where the missing members of his family might be. It could be an idiolect or a dialect typical of the region. – Mari-Lou A Jan 2 '19 at 11:37
  • @Mari-Lou A: You're letting your sense of the English language, as a native speaker of Italian, overrule my sense, as a native speaker of English?? Did you bother to visit the links I supplied? There might (just might) be a regional correlation, but it's certainly not a personal idiosyncrasy. The word has been in use in this meaning for more than 150 years. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 2 '19 at 12:22
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    Hello? I upvoted and suggested a possible explanation. And yes, I did visit the links and especially the citation in one book,"security forces had no inclination where or when..." written in 2016, so how long this use has been established is up for grabs. You are really rude, do you know that, especially to me. I left a perfectly nice comment. I leave (vado) – Mari-Lou A Jan 2 '19 at 12:35
  • Hello? You called it "clumsy and confusing". And how long it's been in use is not "up for grabs". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 2 '19 at 12:36

I suppose you could call it a mistake, or at least a mistaken understanding of what the word "inclination" actually means. However as this man uses a double negative in one of his statements:

I don't have no inclination of where she is

we already know he is from a a particular class of English speakers who are, let's say, not especially "formal" with their grammar. I would conclude that he's either accustomed to misusing "inclination", or he learned it from the people he associates with.

However we shouldn't discount the possibility that the meaning of "inclination" has changed from the standard dictionary definition, and become "fuzzy" as various people use it in a different way. Many words have been changed through colloquial use -- for example, as weird as it may sound, the word "literally" often is used to mean "figuratively".

I, personally, would never use "inclination" in this way. I would either say:

I have no idea where she is.


I'm not inclined to tell you where she is.

I suspect if this person used "inclination" this way in something like a court of law, he would be asked to clarify his statement.

[Edit] Per Tᴚoɯɐuo's answer: it seems that "inclination" has an established use as a colloquialism or dialect. It's not one I am comfortable with, personally, but it may be fine in this person's conversational circles.

As Tᴚoɯɐuo says, a paraphrase of this particular use might be something like:

I don't know enough (or pretend to know enough) to be able to lean in any specific direction that points to where she is.

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    inclination has an established meaning, as I describe in my answer. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 2 '19 at 11:20
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo noted and edited. As I said, it's entirely possible that it's a new-ish use of the word with which I'm not familiar or comfortable, but I can say that about a great many expressions. – Andrew Jan 2 '19 at 17:19
  • According to T.Romano this usage dates back 150 years at least “The word has been in use in this meaning for more than 150 years.” whereas you think it's a recent development. I wonder who's right. – Mari-Lou A Jan 5 '19 at 17:39
  • @Mari-LouA that's a question better asked on ELU. For this question, the important point is that I understand the use of "inclination" in this context, but I don't agree with it. – Andrew Jan 5 '19 at 17:50

I have heard this 6 times. I still can't be sure whether he mis-says "information" as "inclination" the first time, or just says "information" indistinctly, but the two events after that he clearly says "information". He has a fairly strong accent. People often make errors when nervous, and that situation looks rather stressful.

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