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ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ət How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
: especially suitable or compatible : fitting
an appropriate response
remarks appropriate to the occasion
appropriately adverb
appropriateness noun


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ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating

transitive verb

: to take exclusive possession of : annex
No one should appropriate a common benefit.
: to set apart for or assign to a particular purpose or use
appropriate money for a research program
: to take or make use of without authority or right
natural habitats that have been appropriated for human use
appropriable adjective
appropriator noun

Did you know?

From its roots, the verb appropriate would mean basically "make one's own"—that is, "take", or sometimes "grab". Each year the President and Congress create a budget and appropriate funds for each item in it, funds which mostly come in the form of taxes from the public. In the House of Representatives, the powerful Appropriations Committee often gets the last word on how much money goes to each program. "Misappropriation of funds", on the other hand, is a nice way of saying "theft". If someone appropriated pieces of your novel, you might take him or her to court; and if you appropriated trade secrets from your former employers, you might be the one sued.

Choose the Right Synonym for appropriate

fit, suitable, meet, proper, appropriate, fitting, apt, happy, felicitous mean right with respect to some end, need, use, or circumstance.

fit stresses adaptability and sometimes special readiness for use or action.

fit for battle

suitable implies an answering to requirements or demands.

clothes suitable for camping

meet suggests a just proportioning.

meet payment

proper suggests a suitability through essential nature or accordance with custom.

proper acknowledgement

appropriate implies eminent or distinctive fitness.

an appropriate gift

fitting implies harmony of mood or tone.

a fitting end

apt connotes a fitness marked by nicety and discrimination.

apt quotations

happy suggests what is effectively or successfully appropriate.

a happy choice of words

felicitous suggests an aptness that is opportune, telling, or graceful.

a felicitous phrase

Example Sentences

Adjective More than almost anyone writing today, Slater, whose prose is astringent and sensuous by turn, reflects both a genuine feeling for and appreciation of foods appropriate to the season—and a tolerance for kitchen disasters. Cynthia Zarin, Gourmet, April 2007
Crepuscular means "pertaining to twilight." It sounds so lovely. I use the word as much as possible, even when it's not appropriate. Bob Berman, Astronomy, June 2006
While working as one of the exhibition curators, I was surprised to learn that, until the 1920s, ice cream was properly eaten with a fork, a cumbersome technique decried by none other than Florence Howe hall, the granddaughter of Julia Ward Howe, who wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". But if high society eventually agreed on a more appropriate utensil for eating the frozen-dessert, even the most au courant hostess may have had trouble deciding what kind of device should be used for serving it … Darra Goldstein, Saveur, June-July 2006
Three days. There was no way on this earth that proper due diligence could be done in such a limited time. For a merger of this magnitude, a week's worth of due diligence would have been more appropriate. Nina Munk, Vanity Fair, January 2004
Red wine would have been a more appropriate choice with the meal. The movie is perfectly appropriate to people of all ages. Verb From this source it was appropriated by Wilhelm Ropke in his effort to develop a social and political theory in which the market economy would be reconciled with the local community. Roger Scruton, National Review, 20 June 2005
Dr. Seuss's mother, also the daughter of German immigrants, was Henrietta Seuss, and when he appropriated the name for his books Dr. Seuss pronounced it in the German manner, "soice," until he realized that Americans naturally read the name as "soose," and that the American pronunciation of "Dr. Seuss" evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children's books to be associated with—Mother Goose. Louis Menand, New Yorker, 23 & 30 Dec. 2002
Wales, in contrast, was officially appropriated into the United Kingdom by Henry VIII's Acts of Union, in 1536 and 1543, before it had developed the apparatus of a modern state. Pamela Petro, Atlantic, April 1999
The town has appropriated funds to repair the bridge and work should begin this summer. The economy has been weakened by corrupt officials who have appropriated the country's resources for their own use. Elements of the design were appropriated from other architects. The term “bad” has been appropriated by teenagers as a synonym for “good.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web
What’s the appropriate time for a store or shopping center to reopen after a mass shooting? Maria Halkias, Dallas News, 14 May 2023 Individuals may be placed into an Alternatives to Detention program to ensure compliance, if deemed appropriate. Adam Shaw, Fox News, 10 May 2023 Copilot will advise users on how to effectively deliver information under these circumstances with appropriate clarity and tone. Jess Weatherbed, The Verge, 9 May 2023 The humans then rank the outputs in terms of how desirable or appropriate the responses seem based on the inputs. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 9 May 2023 The president is in charge of deciding what action is appropriate to take to prevent individuals and companies from communicating or doing business with Chinese entities that may put national security at risk. Tom Davies, Chicago Tribune, 8 May 2023 In Hamilton County libraries in Fishers and Noblesville, a conservative bloc on the library board led approval of a review costing upward of $300,000 to remove materials deemed not age appropriate. Kayla Dwyer, The Indianapolis Star, 8 May 2023 It’s become a go-to for the manager, an appropriate response to anything from Connor Wong’s multi-home run exploits to Chris Sale’s multi-strikeout ones. Tara Sullivan,, 8 May 2023 Chief of Staff MaryAnne Pintar said the behested payments disclosed by Parent are wholly appropriate. Jeff Mcdonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2023
When critics questioned the expenditure of Florida tax revenue in Texas, DeSantis simply had his indulgent state legislators rewrite the law and appropriate $12 million more to transport migrants from outside Florida to Democratic locations. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 Lori was additionally charged with grand theft related to Social Security survivor benefits allocated for the care of her children that prosecutors said were appropriated after they were reported missing and ultimately found dead. Matt Gutman, ABC News, 17 May 2023 Officials hope to keep wait times low by increasing staffing using some of the $7 million that Congress appropriated for the hotline for the 2023 fiscal year. NBC news, 12 May 2023 The House did not appropriate additional money to cover the expenses of the reimbursement, according to Ballard. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 12 May 2023 The request is jockeying for legislative favor with a number of other budget requests from Kotek’s office, including $300 million for investments in the state’s behavioral health care system and $200 million that’s already been appropriated for housing and homelessness issues. oregonlive, 10 May 2023 The costs have already ballooned above $5 billion, according to the F.C.C., more than double what Congress appropriated for reimbursements. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, 9 May 2023 The Griffith Town Council appropriated $500,000 in unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds at last week’s meeting to cover town employee payroll for the next two pay cycles. Jim Masters, Chicago Tribune, 8 May 2023 The team also hopes to help connect or refer communities to appropriate resources whether or not a grant is available. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 3 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'appropriate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Adjective

Middle English, from Late Latin appropriatus, past participle of appropriare, from Latin ad- + proprius own

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of appropriate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near appropriate

Cite this Entry

“Appropriate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating
: to take for one's own often without right
: to set apart for a particular purpose or use
appropriate funds for research


2 of 2 adjective
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ət How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
: especially suitable or fitting
appropriately adverb
appropriateness noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating
: to set apart for or assign to a particular recipient, purpose, or use
the legislature appropriating funds for the program
: to take or make use of without authority or right
appropriation noun

Transitive verb

Late Latin appropriare to take possession of, from ad to, for + proprius one's own

More from Merriam-Webster on appropriate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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