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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web In a technical brief sent to diagnostic laboratories and obtained by STAT, Abbott lists a number of potential causes of false negatives, including improper collection, transport, or handling of samples and low levels of virus in a patient. Matthew Herper, STAT, "FDA says Abbott’s 5-minute Covid-19 test may miss infected patients," 15 May 2020 In British employment cases, an award is capped at just above 80,000 pounds ($105,000) unless a worker can show discrimination or that they were fired for blowing the whistle on improper actions. Jonathan Browning,, "Ex-HSBC Executive Sues Top Bosses Including Ex-CEO Flint," 12 May 2020 ExxonMobil is not named in the lawsuit and is not alleged to have done anything improper. Patrick Mcgreevy, Los Angeles Times, "California attorney general sues gas trading companies, alleging price manipulation," 4 May 2020 In light of ProPublica’s reporting on the improper role that the Navy’s top commander played in the prosecution of Benson, one of captains on the USS Fitzgerald, the Navy dropped all criminal charges. ProPublica, "ProPublica and Local Reporting Partner Anchorage Daily News Win Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting and Public Service," 4 May 2020 Pokeweed’s notoriety stems from livestock poisonings or improper preparation: Animals that graze on the mature plant or snout out its toxic rhizome can grow sick and die; unripe fruit and uncooked green parts are also toxic to humans. Marie Viljoen/saveur, Popular Science, "Ten weeds you can eat," 19 Apr. 2020 Ramos noted Trump’s allegation that Ithaca had an improper motive to forcibly take over the hotel and did so through unlawful means such as forcible entry and burglary. Chris Dolmetsch,, "Trump Hotel Firm Must Defend Fraud Claim Over Panama Project," 5 May 2020 The Cleveland Heights woman, 26, is being charged with improper handling of a firearm in a vehicle. cleveland, "Drunken driver finds himself in resident’s yard: South Euclid Police Blotter," 30 Apr. 2020 Bursten challenged claims of improper handling of inmates, particularly during the outbreak of COVID-19 among the detainees and correctional officers. USA TODAY, "Prison protest, Phoenix set for flyover, mask mandates: News from around our 50 states," 30 Apr. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for improper

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for improper

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Improper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

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Comments on improper

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