im·​prop·​er | \ (ˌ)im-ˈprä-pər How to pronounce improper (audio) \

Definition of improper

: not proper: such as
a : not in accord with propriety, modesty, good manners, or good taste improper language
b : not suited to the circumstances, design, or end improper medicine
c : not regularly or normally formed or not properly so called
d : not in accord with fact, truth, or right procedure : incorrect improper inference

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from improper

improperly adverb
improperness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for improper

indecorous, improper, unseemly, unbecoming, indelicate mean not conforming to what is accepted as right, fitting, or in good taste. indecorous suggests a violation of accepted standards of good manners. indecorous behavior improper applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method. improper use of campaign contributions unseemly adds a suggestion of special inappropriateness to a situation or an offensiveness to good taste. remarried with unseemly haste unbecoming suggests behavior or language that does not suit one's character or status. conduct unbecoming to an officer indelicate implies a lack of modesty or of tact or of refined perception of feeling. indelicate expressions for bodily functions

Examples of improper in a Sentence

The doctor gave him an improper diagnosis. They claim to have evidence of improper police conduct. improper use of public land This is an improper diet for a growing teenager. It would be improper for me to ask such a favor of her. He made some improper remarks.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Galperin, in a memo, said Huizar’s last day receiving a city salary was June 23, the day he was charged with racketeering in a sprawling case in which he is accused of receiving $1.5 million in bribes and other improper financial benefits. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, "Huizar, facing felony charge, will no longer receive L.A. council salary, official says," 29 June 2020 Police left after ticketing Renaissance for the improper turn. Helen Wieffering, The Arizona Republic, "Protesters dispute arrests, use of force at Tempe chalk-drawing event," 29 June 2020 The agency is supposed to use death records to update taxpayers’ accounts to prevent improper payments. Washington Post, "No, the IRS should not try to claw back $1.4 billion sent to dead people," 26 June 2020 The government’s fiscal watchdog said Thursday that $1.4 billion in stimulus payments were sent to roughly 1.1 million people who had already died, bypassing IRS procedures put in place seven years to ago to prevent such improper payments. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "IRS sent $1.4B in stimulus payments to 1.1M dead people, mostly after Trump called snafus a ‘tiny’ problem," 25 June 2020 While developers say Wong is an indispensable figure in navigating a city bureaucracy, some community activists, city officials and residents have criticized him as being emblematic of improper influence in City Hall. Megan Cassidy,, "SF permit consultant Walter Wong charged with fraud, agrees to cooperate with Justice Department," 24 June 2020 Gifts that can be construed as an attempt to exert improper influence on any city decision or action also are prohibited. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Scottsdale rejects ban on anonymous donations, including GoFundMe campaigns, to council members," 22 June 2020 In a major reversal, an appeals court Thursday revived a lawsuit filed against Cleveland Public Power involving more than $188 million in charges that customers claimed were improper. John Caniglia, cleveland, "Appeals court says suit over $188 million in Cleveland Public Power charges can move forward," 18 June 2020 The stigma against large bodies is dangerous in itself, and the focus on weight can lead to misdiagnoses and improper treatments. Laura Helmuth, Scientific American, "Know the Enemy," 16 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'improper.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of improper

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for improper

Middle English, from Middle French impropre, from Latin improprius, from in- + proprius proper

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about improper

Time Traveler for improper

Time Traveler

The first known use of improper was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for improper

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Improper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for improper


How to pronounce improper (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of improper

: not correct
: not following rules of acceptable behavior : legally or morally wrong
: not suitable for the situation : not appropriate


im·​prop·​er | \ im-ˈprä-pər How to pronounce improper (audio) \

Kids Definition of improper

: not proper, right, or suitable He used improper grammar.

Other Words from improper

improperly adverb



Legal Definition of improper

: not proper: as
a : not in accord with correct procedure an improper venue
b : wrongful specifically : in violation of a constitution the denial of trial by jury was held improper

Other Words from improper

improperly adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on improper

What made you want to look up improper? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!