propriety

noun
pro·​pri·​e·​ty | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-tē How to pronounce propriety (audio) \
plural proprieties

Definition of propriety

1 : the quality or state of being proper or suitable : appropriateness
2a : conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech
b proprieties plural : the customs and manners of polite society
c : fear of offending against conventional rules of behavior especially between the sexes
3 obsolete : true nature
4 obsolete : a special characteristic : peculiarity

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Synonyms & Antonyms for propriety

Synonyms

decency, decorum, form

Antonyms

impropriety, indecency, indecorum

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Did You Know?

In an earlier era, when social manners were far more elaborate than they are today, propriety and impropriety were words in constant use. Today we're more likely to use them in other contexts. We may talk about the propriety of government officials' dealings with private citizens, the propriety of the relationship between a lawyer and a judge, or the impropriety of speaking out of turn in a meeting that follows Robert's rules of order. Relations between men and women still present questions of propriety, but today it's often in the workplace rather than in social settings. Wherever rules, principles, and standard procedures have been clearly stated, propriety can become an issue. Something improper usually isn't actually illegal, but it makes people uncomfortable by giving the impression that something isn't quite right.

Examples of propriety in a Sentence

If Madison felt the same annoyance with the dissenters, his prim sense of political propriety forbade him from stooping to personal attacks. — Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings … , 1996 His austere and basically humble personality imposes a curious damp propriety upon his memorial. — John Updike, New Yorker, 1 July 1991 In contemporary America the appearance of prosperity is all too often taken as a sign of propriety. — Jack Beatty, Atlantic, December 1989 She conducted herself with propriety. They debated the propriety of the punishment that he was given. When attending a wedding, there are certain proprieties that must be observed.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Other groups, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, are now weighing in on the propriety of such comparisons. Karen Ann Cullotta, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago’s Jewish community split over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison of border detention to ‘concentration camps’," 24 June 2019 The report does not comment on the propriety of accepting such gifts. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Report: W. Va. bishop sent diocese funds to abuse victims," 5 June 2019 This objection is rightly dismissed by saying that an affront to one’s sense of propriety is no grounds for rejecting a theory. Quanta Magazine, "Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems," 18 Oct. 2018 Also for the first time, not coincidentally, questions have been raised about the propriety of doing business with the Bohemians. Robin Abcarian, latimes.com, "Why should Sonoma County provide security for an elitist, men-only summer camp?," 14 June 2019 As of press time, none of them have responded to my requests for comment on the propriety of booking Brown, or the thinking that went into it. John Wenzel, The Know, "Commentary: Chris Brown headlining Summer Jam is a stain on Denver," 13 June 2019 But No Property in Man has a narrow understanding of antislavery politics, focused principally on Congress and debates among white elites about the propriety of slavery’s expansion. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "How Proslavery Was the Constitution?," 6 June 2019 These undergarments only emerged during the colonial era due to British notions of propriety. Meara Sharma, Vogue, "Why I Am Taking the Sari Back to the Street," 30 Apr. 2019 Even so, sticklers for journalistic propriety found this a trifle inappropriate. The Economist, "Sean Hannity shares a lot with Donald Trump, including an attorney," 19 Apr. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for propriety

Middle English propriete, from Anglo-French proprieté, propreté property, quality of a person or thing — more at property

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Statistics for propriety

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for propriety

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

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More Definitions for propriety

propriety

noun

English Language Learners Definition of propriety

formal
: behavior that is accepted as socially or morally correct and proper
: the state or quality of being correct and proper
: rules of correct social behavior

propriety

noun
pro·​pri·​ety | \ prə-ˈprī-ə-tē How to pronounce propriety (audio) \
plural proprieties

Kids Definition of propriety

1 : correctness in manners or behavior He went beyond the bounds of propriety.
2 : the quality or state of being proper
3 proprieties plural : the rules of correct behavior the proprieties of weddings

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Comments on propriety

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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