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 What President Trump has been talking about, which is these blanket pardons for his children or for Rudy Giuliani or others, would be improper. Nora Mishanec,, "Can Trump pardon himself? A UC Hastings law professor weighs in," 31 Dec. 2020 But Carsten’s decision was overruled in August by a panel of judges at the Fifth District Court of Appeal, who said the ruling was improper because the court didn’t require Orange County to be a party to the lawsuit. Ryan Gillespie,, "Florida Supreme Court declines to take up Orlando strip club discrimination case," 15 Dec. 2020 The Supreme Court previously ruled that the Trump administration's efforts to shut down DACA were improper, but President Trump would have the authority to end it himself. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Federal judge orders Trump administration to accept new DACA applicants," 4 Dec. 2020 The office found one directive to be improper and had recommended giving Morales an extension to comply with the others, which the commission declined to do. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "City admits former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales denied due process when he was demoted," 16 Nov. 2020 Several affidavits described vote counters at the TFC Center in Detroit processing ballots in ways that Republicans said were improper. David Voreacos,, "Trump Campaign Sues to Stop Michigan From Certifying Count," 11 Nov. 2020 Challengers have six days to prove a vote was improper, Nessel wrote in the letter. Ashley Nerbovig, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan AG to right-wing website: Take down misleading videos," 11 Nov. 2020 Jim Clancy, former chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, said handing out large sums of reward money may be improper if it’s being used to help prove Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Chuck Lindell, USA TODAY, "Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick offers up to $1 million for information on 'voter fraud'," 11 Nov. 2020 Jim Clancy, former chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, said handing out large sums of reward money may be improper if it's being used to help prove Mr. Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud. CBS News, "Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick backs "Trump's efforts," offers $1 million reward for "voter fraud" tips," 11 Nov. 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

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Improper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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