Definition of propriety
1 obsolete : true nature
2 obsolete : a special characteristic : peculiarity
4a : conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speechb : fear of offending against conventional rules of behavior especially between the sexesc proprieties plural : the customs and manners of polite society
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.
Recent Examples of propriety from the Web
The international community generally welcomed the development, but Gennady Gerasimov, spokesman for the Soviet Foreign Ministry, questioned the propriety and legality of the United States' actions.
Nothing about this decision should be construed as making any determination or expressing any opinion about the propriety of the use of the private email server…
But Megaupload’s attorneys dismissed this example as well, pointing out that FARC was not a corporation and that the propriety of that service was never tested in court.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of propriety
Middle English propriete, from Anglo-French proprieté, propreté property, quality of a person or thing — more at property
First Known Use: 14th century
PROPRIETY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of propriety for English Language Learners
: behavior that is accepted as socially or morally correct and proper
: the state or quality of being correct and proper
proprieties : rules of correct social behavior
PROPRIETY Defined for Kids
Definition of propriety for Students
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up propriety? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).