proprietary

noun
pro·​pri·​e·​tary | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce proprietary (audio) \
plural proprietaries

Definition of proprietary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something specifically : proprietor sense 1
2 : something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker specifically : a drug (such as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture
3 : a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence organization

proprietary

adjective
pro·​pri·​e·​tary | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce proprietary (audio) \

Definition of proprietary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of an owner or title holder proprietary rights
2 : used, made, or marketed by one having the exclusive legal right a proprietary process proprietary software
3 : privately owned and managed and run as a profit-making organization a proprietary clinic

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Did You Know?

A proprietary process is a manufacturing process that others are forbidden to use, and a proprietary trademark is a name that only the owner can use. Legal rights of this kind are ensured by copyrights and patents. After a certain period of time, inventions and processes lose their legal protection, cease to be proprietary, and enter the "public domain", meaning that everyone can use them freely. Baseball fans often take a proprietary attitude toward their favorite team—that is, they behave more or less as if they own it, even though the only thing they may own is the right to yell from a bleacher seat till the end of a game.

Examples of proprietary in a Sentence

Adjective By allowing less favorable results to remain buried, the agency puts proprietary interests ahead of the public interest, and doctors and the public come to believe prescription drugs are better than they are. That should stop. — Marcia Angell, New York Review of Books, 8 June 2006 It is a proprietary faith: no one better tell me what to do with my own land. — Lance Morrow, Time, 11 Sept. 2000 Many veterans have adopted a proprietary attitude toward the war, and they can get a bit belligerent about it. — Nicholas Proffitt, New York Times Book Review, 21 May 1989 The investors have a proprietary interest in the land. The computer comes with the manufacturer's proprietary software. “Merriam-Webster” is a proprietary name. The journalist tried to get access to proprietary information.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The safety selector and charging handle are ambidextrous, and the rifle uses proprietary 10-round steel magazines. Outdoor Life, "16 New Rifles from SHOT Show 2019," 31 Jan. 2019 Lightning and headphones: Yep, still frustrating As has been the case for a few years now, these phones have only one port each: Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max review: High quality for high prices," 26 Sep. 2019 Back in the 1980s, Stallman was a researcher at MIT angered at the thought of the public’s being at the mercy of big companies and their hegemonic proprietary software. Wired, "Richard Stallman’s Exit Heralds a New Era in Tech," 22 Sep. 2019 When the Star made a public records request for McKinsey’s contract, UA allowed the firm to black out entire pages of information the company considers proprietary. azcentral, "UA's $14-million gamble: Consultant gave pricey advice to devise strategic plan," 9 Nov. 2019 The burger is two giant patties of the restaurant’s proprietary Angus chuck, separated by a bun half and copious amounts of dripping American cheese. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "In 2019, the burgers in these cities are better than ever," 24 Oct. 2019 Those connectors can charge phones far more quickly than Apple iPhone users can using Apple's proprietary Lightning connector. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "5 iPhone 11 Questions That Apple Needs to Answer," 22 Aug. 2019 Instead of filing patents and keeping the life-saving design proprietary, Volvo chose to evangelize the innovation. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Hardware Security Keys: A Seatbelt for the Internet?—Cyber Saturday," 7 Sep. 2019 Some of the files that Levandowski took from Google included private schematics for proprietary circuit boards and designs for light sensor technology, known as Lidar, which are used in self-driving cars, according to the complaint. Mike Isaac, BostonGlobe.com, "A top Silicon Valley expert on self-driving cars is accused of stealing Google trade secrets," 27 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Bio-Oil also contains a proprietary ingredient called PurCellin Oil, which the company claims helps the oil absorb quickly without leaving a greasy feeling behind. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Can You Use Bio-Oil On Your Face?," 21 Feb. 2020 Boyett, the head of the rules committee, argues that there is no proprietary information or requirements in the new rules. Anna Claire Vollers | Avollers@al.com, al, "New opioid treatment rules ignite controversy among doctors," 21 Feb. 2020 FORTUNE Analytics brings readers business insights from proprietary data and exclusive surveys. Lance Lambert, Fortune, "Fortune poll: Many Americans are uneasy about the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint," 12 Feb. 2020 Holmes claimed Theranos had proprietary devices that could detect disease with a drop of blood; in fact, its technicians fed diluted samples through industry-standard testing equipment. Owen Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "Who will write Theranos’ last chapter?," 12 Feb. 2020 Through its Thousand Talents Program, Beijing has recruited academics and entrepreneurs to work in China in an effort to gain access to proprietary information. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "US counterintelligence chief: 'We had a horrible year'," 4 Feb. 2020 For example, Compass, a relatively new national brokerage, has banked on its proprietary data and technology platform as a way to differentiate itself from other brokerages. R.a. Schuetz, Houston Chronicle, "Brokerage consolidation continues with Connect/Clayton Nash deal," 29 Nov. 2019 Using proprietary data from SafeGraph, a company that collects such information from smartphone apps, the researchers gathered pings that came from within 60 meters of a polling place during the 2016 presidential election. Daniel Garisto, Scientific American, "Smartphone Data Show Voters in Black Neighborhoods Wait Longer," 1 Oct. 2019 An average month for existing home sales is about 5,800 transactions, with a high of around 11,160 sales coming in June 2004, according to proprietary CoreLogic data. Louis Hansen, chicagotribune.com, "Endangered Bay Area species: the new home," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proprietary.' 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 proprietary

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proprietary

Noun

Middle English propietarie, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin propietarius, from Late Latin, adjective — see proprietary entry 2

Adjective

Late Latin proprietarius, from Latin proprietas property — more at property

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Time Traveler for proprietary

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for proprietary

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proprietary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proprietary. Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for proprietary

proprietary

adjective
How to pronounce proprietary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proprietary

formal
: of or like that of an owner
: used, made, or sold only by the particular person or company that has the legal right to do so
: kept private by an owner

proprietary

noun
pro·​pri·​e·​tary | \ p(r)ə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce proprietary (audio) \
plural proprietaries

Medical Definition of proprietary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker specifically : a drug (as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture

proprietary

adjective

Medical Definition of proprietary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : used, made, or marketed by one having the exclusive legal right a proprietary drug
2 : privately owned and managed and run as a profit-making organization a proprietary clinic

proprietary

noun
pro·​pri·​e·​tary | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce proprietary (audio) \
plural proprietaries

Legal Definition of proprietary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker specifically : a drug (as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture
2 : a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence operation

proprietary

adjective

Legal Definition of proprietary (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : held as property of a private owner
b : of, relating to, or characteristic of a proprietor proprietary rights
2 : used, made, or marketed by one having the exclusive legal right a proprietary process
3 : privately owned and managed and run as a profit-making organization a proprietary insurer a proprietary clinic
4 : of or relating to the acts of a municipality which profit or benefit the municipality and for which it is answerable in negligence

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Comments on proprietary

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