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ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ət How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
: especially suitable or compatible : fitting
an appropriate response
remarks appropriate to the occasion
appropriately adverb
appropriateness noun


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ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating

transitive verb

: to take exclusive possession of : annex
No one should appropriate a common benefit.
: to set apart for or assign to a particular purpose or use
appropriate money for a research program
: to take or make use of without authority or right
natural habitats that have been appropriated for human use
appropriable adjective
appropriator noun

Did you know?

From its roots, the verb appropriate would mean basically "make one's own"—that is, "take", or sometimes "grab". Each year the President and Congress create a budget and appropriate funds for each item in it, funds which mostly come in the form of taxes from the public. In the House of Representatives, the powerful Appropriations Committee often gets the last word on how much money goes to each program. "Misappropriation of funds", on the other hand, is a nice way of saying "theft". If someone appropriated pieces of your novel, you might take him or her to court; and if you appropriated trade secrets from your former employers, you might be the one sued.

Choose the Right Synonym for appropriate

fit, suitable, meet, proper, appropriate, fitting, apt, happy, felicitous mean right with respect to some end, need, use, or circumstance.

fit stresses adaptability and sometimes special readiness for use or action.

fit for battle

suitable implies an answering to requirements or demands.

clothes suitable for camping

meet suggests a just proportioning.

meet payment

proper suggests a suitability through essential nature or accordance with custom.

proper acknowledgement

appropriate implies eminent or distinctive fitness.

an appropriate gift

fitting implies harmony of mood or tone.

a fitting end

apt connotes a fitness marked by nicety and discrimination.

apt quotations

happy suggests what is effectively or successfully appropriate.

a happy choice of words

felicitous suggests an aptness that is opportune, telling, or graceful.

a felicitous phrase

Examples of appropriate in a Sentence

Adjective More than almost anyone writing today, Slater, whose prose is astringent and sensuous by turn, reflects both a genuine feeling for and appreciation of foods appropriate to the season—and a tolerance for kitchen disasters. Cynthia Zarin, Gourmet, April 2007
Crepuscular means "pertaining to twilight." It sounds so lovely. I use the word as much as possible, even when it's not appropriate. Bob Berman, Astronomy, June 2006
While working as one of the exhibition curators, I was surprised to learn that, until the 1920s, ice cream was properly eaten with a fork, a cumbersome technique decried by none other than Florence Howe hall, the granddaughter of Julia Ward Howe, who wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". But if high society eventually agreed on a more appropriate utensil for eating the frozen-dessert, even the most au courant hostess may have had trouble deciding what kind of device should be used for serving it … Darra Goldstein, Saveur, June-July 2006
Three days. There was no way on this earth that proper due diligence could be done in such a limited time. For a merger of this magnitude, a week's worth of due diligence would have been more appropriate. Nina Munk, Vanity Fair, January 2004
Red wine would have been a more appropriate choice with the meal. The movie is perfectly appropriate to people of all ages. Verb From this source it was appropriated by Wilhelm Ropke in his effort to develop a social and political theory in which the market economy would be reconciled with the local community. Roger Scruton, National Review, 20 June 2005
Dr. Seuss's mother, also the daughter of German immigrants, was Henrietta Seuss, and when he appropriated the name for his books Dr. Seuss pronounced it in the German manner, "soice," until he realized that Americans naturally read the name as "soose," and that the American pronunciation of "Dr. Seuss" evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children's books to be associated with—Mother Goose. Louis Menand, New Yorker, 23 & 30 Dec. 2002
Wales, in contrast, was officially appropriated into the United Kingdom by Henry VIII's Acts of Union, in 1536 and 1543, before it had developed the apparatus of a modern state. Pamela Petro, Atlantic, April 1999
The town has appropriated funds to repair the bridge and work should begin this summer. The economy has been weakened by corrupt officials who have appropriated the country's resources for their own use. Elements of the design were appropriated from other architects. The term “bad” has been appropriated by teenagers as a synonym for “good.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Three years later, school authorities were still seeking an appropriate site, which meant finding an affordable site in a welcoming neighborhood. Richard Selcer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 17 Feb. 2024 Experts say around early adolescence is an appropriate time for parents to offer details about the Holocaust and discuss hate, discrimination, and prejudice. Tyler Gildin, Parents, 17 Feb. 2024 However, several challenges continue to hinder the widespread adoption of AI and generative AI in the industry, with a lack of skills or finding the appropriate skilled labor named by respondents as the top challenge. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 Not only was the chatbot’s rewording appropriate for work, it was composed well enough to send without any adjustments. Reece Rogers, WIRED, 15 Feb. 2024 Here’s how early is too early for preventative skincare products, what counts as an appropriate skincare routine for a child, and what kinds of products can be dangerous if used too early. Maggie O'Neill, Health, 15 Feb. 2024 And other judges seemed to believe that the Molineux testimony was appropriate. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 About 15 ads on Nickelodeon will be stand-alone, according to people familiar with the matter — the result of commercials for beer, gambling and the like not being appropriate for a younger audience. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 6 Feb. 2024 Ultimately, if Russia’s edge in strategic adaptation persists without an appropriate Western response, the worst that can happen in this war is not stalemate. Mick Ryan, Foreign Affairs, 5 Feb. 2024
And a South County delegation traveled to Capitol Hill to make their case for why the money should be appropriated and that the IBWC be audited. Tammy Murga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2024 But Cahokia is surrounded by American robber barons eager to destroy its hierarchy and appropriate its treasures. Mary Ann Gwinn, Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Refer the student or individual to to appropriate substance abuse program or employee assistance program. Julia Coin, Charlotte Observer, 24 Jan. 2024 The regime had long since appropriated everything: every minute in the day, every square centimetre of space, every word in the language, every color in the palette, every note on the scale. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 19 Jan. 2024 Today, Trump is happy to appropriate some of the credit that is owed the Republican governors who bet on liberty and were rewarded for the gamble — unless, that is, those Republican governors are his critics. Noah Rothman, National Review, 11 Jan. 2024 Last year, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated $13 million to set up an electric school bus program, which has yet to be activated by the state Department of Commerce. Dan Gunderson, Twin Cities, 4 Feb. 2024 Moreover, the agency has disbursed only half of the $600 million per year appropriated to state and local law enforcement. Maureen Flatley, National Review, 25 Jan. 2024 By the end of the pandemic’s first year, Congress had appropriated more than a billion dollars to the N.I.H. to study the condition, thanks in large part to patient-advocacy efforts. Rachael Bedard, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'appropriate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Adjective

Middle English, from Late Latin appropriatus, past participle of appropriare, from Latin ad- + proprius own

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of appropriate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near appropriate

Cite this Entry

“Appropriate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating
: to take for one's own often without right
: to set apart for a particular purpose or use
appropriate funds for research


2 of 2 adjective
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ət How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
: especially suitable or fitting
appropriately adverb
appropriateness noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
ap·​pro·​pri·​ate ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce appropriate (audio)
appropriated; appropriating
: to set apart for or assign to a particular recipient, purpose, or use
the legislature appropriating funds for the program
: to take or make use of without authority or right
appropriation noun

Transitive verb

Late Latin appropriare to take possession of, from ad to, for + proprius one's own

More from Merriam-Webster on appropriate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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