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

Definition of proper

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : referring to one individual only
b : belonging to one : own
c : appointed for the liturgy of a particular day
d : represented heraldically in natural color
2 : belonging characteristically to a species or individual : peculiar
3 chiefly dialectal : good-looking, handsome
4 : very good : excellent
5 chiefly British : utter, absolute
6 : strictly limited to a specified thing, place, or idea the city proper
7a : strictly accurate : correct
b archaic : virtuous, respectable
c : strictly decorous : genteel
8 : marked by suitability, rightness, or appropriateness : fit
9 : being a mathematical subset (such as a subgroup) that does not contain all the elements of the inclusive set from which it is derived



Definition of proper (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the parts of the Mass that vary according to the liturgical calendar
2 : the part of a missal or breviary containing the proper of the Mass and the offices proper to the holy days of the liturgical year



Definition of proper (Entry 3 of 3)

chiefly dialectal
: in a thorough manner : completely

Other Words from proper


properness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for proper


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

Examples of proper in a Sentence

Adjective It is not proper to speak that way. The children need to learn proper behavior. It would not be proper for you to borrow the ladder without asking first. She is a very prim and proper young lady. Is this the proper spelling of your name? You need to eat a proper meal instead of junk food. Each step must be done in the proper order. Adverb They beat us good and proper. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The adults were busy arranging a proper burial for Ms. Vashchenko and Mr. Yesypenko. Isabel Coles, WSJ, 13 May 2022 Some Palestinian survivors and their descendants are campaigning to build a memorial for their relatives at the site, and have their bodies given a proper burial. New York Times, 11 May 2022 Classic, conventional, proper and preppy are just some of the ways pearls have been described while having a longstanding relationship with traditional fine jewelry. Beth Bernstein, Forbes, 2 May 2022 The good news is that remission (meaning your symptoms are virtually gone or very minimal) of pustular psoriasis is possible with proper treatment. Fatima Fahs, SELF, 29 Apr. 2022 In light of all the circumstances of the life-or-death situation confronting them, Officers Amaya and Vinyard acted reasonably in their use of force, and did no more than was necessary and proper to perform their lawful duties as federal officers. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2022 Some of the menu items, such as the chicken, are too advanced to leave to cooks without the proper training and experience. Jenn Harriscolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Most of the bodies had already been exhumed and sent to the morgue for identification and a proper burial. Time, 14 Apr. 2022 On top of this endometriosis-specific racial bias, studies have demonstrated that the medical establishment is prone to believing that Black patients are less sensitive to pain than white patients, often leaving them without proper treatment. Lucia Osborne-crowley,, 3 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Google Maps has access to location data, historical information, and Street View images; Google proper has much of the internet as well as numerous AI projects at its disposal. Nathaniel Mott, PCMAG, 9 Apr. 2022 Odaibia was built in the 19th century as a defense against naval attacks on Tokyo proper, but is now a shopping and entertainment destination. Chris Klimek, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2022 For those consumers, Apple continues to release security updates for older hardware, and the general view (although unconfirmed) is two further years of security updates are offered after hardware is unable to upgrade to the new OS proper. Ewan Spence, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2021 Subsequent episodes will be released on FX proper each Thursday and become available to stream the next day on Hulu. ELLE, 26 Mar. 2022 This year, Valentine’s Day proper fell on a workweek night and a friend’s birthday. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Feb. 2022 Planning how to celebrate their wedding proper, though, was a bigger challenge for the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based couple. Mark Ellwood, Fortune, 27 Feb. 2022 Russian troops penetrated into Georgia proper, did considerable damage, but declined to march on Tbilisi and withdrew, leaving Mr. Saakashvili still in power. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Feb. 2022 New York City proper can expect over 6 inches of snow, but amounts will quickly climb as one heads east on the Long Island Expressway. Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Backpacker’s Field Manual is a well-rounded and comprehensive primer on how to select a proper-fitting pack, select a campsite, lower your physical impact on the trail, plan a backcountry menu, and learn about dozens of other topics. Matt Jancer, Wired, 20 Nov. 2021 Another safety consideration has to do with injury risk: Wearing proper-fitting shoes can help prevent injury, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says. Cindy Kuzma, SELF, 25 Dec. 2020 Just as there’s something to be said for proper-fitting women’s flannels, there’s also something to be said for a good pair of men’s camp pants. Ben Romans, Outdoor Life, 26 Nov. 2020 The port proper is connected to Market Three by a narrow cement path that wends between an overgrown empty lot known as the Mountain, a permanent black puddle the size of a swimming pool, and the port’s 20-foot-high outside wall. Aurora Almendral, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2020 The carriage house proper boasted a livery room and space for six large equipages. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2019 Big red signs warn them of the danger to their lives at the checkpoints that divide Israel proper from the Palestinian territories. Batya Ungar-sargon, The New York Review of Books, 17 June 2019 Around the globe the Jetta will be a lot of somebodies’ first proper, grown-up automobile—a chapter-of-life choice, a fork in the road. Dan Neil, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2018 Additionally, families can opt for grander accommodations than the lodge proper by renting from Spruce Peaks’ pool of private residences and mountain cabins. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Dec. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of proper


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for proper


Middle English propre proper, own, from Anglo-French, from Latin proprius own

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Time Traveler for proper

Time Traveler

The first known use of proper was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near proper



proper adjective

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Proper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for proper


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

Kids Definition of proper

1 : correct according to social or moral rules proper behavior
2 : appropriate entry 1, suitable Use the proper tool for the job.
3 : strictly accurate : correct "… do everything in the proper order … and I'm sure all will be well."— E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan
4 : referring to one individual only a proper name
5 : considered in its true or basic meaning Her family lived outside the city proper.



Legal Definition of proper

: marked by fitness or correctness especially : being in accordance with established procedure, law, jurisdiction, or standards of care, fairness, and justice argued that the shareholder was acting in bad faith and lacked a proper purpose for examining its records

Other Words from proper

properly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on proper

Nglish: Translation of proper for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proper for Arabic Speakers


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