proprietary

noun
pro·​pri·​e·​tary | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē \
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 \

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 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 Imagine if such a report had been written about proprietary (for-profit) schools? WSJ, "Is the Job Corps Successful Enough at Its Job?," 26 Apr. 2018 Those ventures have typically used open-source software development techniques while keeping some 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 Google's internal version-control system is a proprietary, in-house system called Piper. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Everyone complaining about Microsoft buying GitHub needs to offer a better solution," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Apple’s proprietary chips have taken on increasing responsibilities over various functions inside the Mac, including storing secure enclave data and handling disc encryption. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple is using proprietary software to lock MacBook Pros and iMac Pros from third-party repairs," 5 Oct. 2018 Few hardware manufacturers have convinced other game makers that their strange, proprietary chips—full of multi-pronged, work-in-tandem processors or cores—are worth those system-specific headaches. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Nvidia RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review: A tale of two very expensive graphics cards," 19 Sep. 2018 Given the paramountcy of child safety, Pittsburgh’s algorithmic effort to pre-empt child abuse — the brainchild not of contractors peddling proprietary formulas but academics committed to transparency — surely warrants consideration. Stephen Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Books by Virginia Eubanks, Jeremy Bailenson, Niall Ferguson," 1 Feb. 2018 Since the company's inception in California, Vans has used a proprietary formula involving a mix of compounds, tread patterns, and design details to create its skate shoe outsoles. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Watch How Vans Makes Its Secret Skate Shoe Rubber," 8 Mar. 2016 Around the same time, Uber settled a major lawsuit with Waymo, which had accused Uber of stealing its proprietary technology. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-driving cars in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 Over 25 years of existence, Red Hat has made a habit of buying companies that sell proprietary software and then releasing that software for free. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Why IBM Paid $34 Billion for a Company That Gives Away Software for Free," 29 Oct. 2018 But this lightweight formula contains something called ethyl lactyl retinoate, a proprietary blend of lactic acid and retinoids, that works to slowly, gently, and effectively smooth skin and fade discoloration with continued use. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The 5 Truly Excellent Beauty Products I'm Loving This Week," 10 Oct. 2018 But that vision of software tools was applied very differently under both Gates and former chief executive Steve Ballmer, who championed developers building proprietary software for Microsoft, not the kind of open-source projects found on GitHub. Dina Bass And Eric Newcomer, latimes.com, "Microsoft agrees to buy coding site GitHub for $7.5 billion," 4 June 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Jan 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

: 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 \
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 \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on proprietary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with proprietary

Spanish Central: Translation of proprietary

Nglish: Translation of proprietary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proprietary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on proprietary

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