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

Plus, Chinese users largely stick to platform-agnostic messaging and payment services such as WeChat, as opposed to Apple’s proprietary iMessage. Joanna Stern, WSJ, "iPhone XR Revisited: The Best iPhone Apple Can’t Sell," 7 Jan. 2019 Earlier this year, reports suggested that Apple might kill its proprietary Lightning port by transitioning its next iPhone over to the USB Type-C port that virtually all Android devices (and some computers, including new Apple MacBooks) use. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Why the iPhone Won't Dump Lightning for USB-C Even Though the iPad Pro Did," 11 Feb. 2019 Similarly, some tribal stakeholders stated that providers heavily redacted deployment information (which providers may consider proprietary) or required the tribe [to] sign non-disclosure agreements to access deployment data. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC data exaggerates broadband access on tribal lands," 11 Sep. 2018 The cable is exactly as its name describes: one end of the six-foot cord has Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect adapter, while the other end is a standard USB-C plug. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "This cable lets you charge your Surface Pro or Laptop from a USB-C battery," 18 Dec. 2018 And, critically, the same array of ports: one full-size USB 3.1 generation 1 Type-A port, mini-DisplayPort, the proprietary Surface Connect port, a 3.5mm headset jack, and a microSDXC card reader. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2: New internals, new color, old ports," 3 Oct. 2018 The open-source model was once anathema to Microsoft, the largest commercial software company, which had favored keeping its code proprietary. Steve Lohr, New York Times, "Microsoft Buys GitHub for $7.5 Billion, Moving to Grow in Coding’s New Era," 4 June 2018 Tom’s Hardware also reports that the new GTX 1180 will be capable of outputting up to 120Hz to VR headsets over a single proprietary cable. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1180 could be unveiled next month," 2 July 2018 First was the inevitable appearance of Metal, Apple's proprietary 3D graphics API—the news here is that Metal will support up to four external GPUs on Mojave. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple announces macOS 10.14 “Mojave”," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

All copyright and other proprietary notices on any Covered Sites content must be retained on all copies thereof. House Beautiful, "Terms of Use," 6 Dec. 2017 All copyright and other proprietary notices on any Covered Sites content must be retained on all copies thereof. Redbook, "Terms of Use," 6 Dec. 2017 All copyright and other proprietary notices on any Covered Sites content must be retained on all copies thereof. Marie Claire, "Terms of Use," 6 Dec. 2017 All copyright and other proprietary notices on any Covered Sites content must be retained on all copies thereof.2.3 Open Source Software. ELLE Decor, "Terms of Use," 23 Apr. 2013 Their Berkabaw pigs are a proprietary breed which combines two heritage breeds, Berkshire and Ossabaw. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "Why This Region of Virginia Could Be the South’s New Foodie Hotspot," 29 Jan. 2019 The Galaxy Watch runs on its own proprietary Tizen operating system, which limits available apps. David Lazarus, The Seattle Times, "8 great smartwatch picks (that aren’t Apple)," 7 Jan. 2019 But not unlike Facebook, the company is able to provide targeted mailing thanks to a proprietary system that organizes addresses into categories, such as moms, people who’ve just moved, or residents of high income areas. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "Why so many hip startups advertise with snail mail," 1 Nov. 2018 But that's a sensible and practical decision driven by the fact that the world of laptop accessories has more or less favored USB over more proprietary standards. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Why the iPhone Won't Dump Lightning for USB-C Even Though the iPad Pro Did," 11 Feb. 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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Learn More about proprietary

Statistics for proprietary

Last Updated

24 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for proprietary

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

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More Definitions for proprietary

proprietary

adjective

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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something valued as if it were money

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