Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not suited to circumstances or needs; unsuitable.
  • adjective Not in keeping with conventional mores; indecorous: synonym: unseemly.
  • adjective Not consistent with established truth, fact, or rule; incorrect.
  • adjective Irregular or abnormal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not proper or peculiar to any individual; general; common.
  • Not of a proper kind or quality; not adapted to or suitable for the purpose or the circumstances; unfit; unbecoming; indecorous: as, an improper medicine; an improper appointment; improper conduct or language.
  • Not proper in form or method; not according to nature, truth, rule, or usage; abnormal; irregular; erroneous: as, improper development; improper fractions; improper pronunciation; an improper use of words.
  • To impropriate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Not proper; not suitable; not fitted to the circumstances, design, or end; unfit; not becoming; incongruous; inappropriate; indecent
  • adjective obsolete Not peculiar or appropriate to individuals; general; common.
  • adjective Not according to facts; inaccurate; erroneous.
  • adjective See under Diphthong.
  • adjective an original feud, not earned by military service.
  • adjective See under Fraction.
  • transitive verb obsolete To appropriate; to limit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective unsuitable to needs or circumstances; inappropriate; inapt
  • adjective Not in keeping with conventional mores or good manners; indecent or immodest
  • adjective Not according to facts; inaccurate or erroneous
  • adjective Not consistent with established facts; incorrect
  • adjective Not properly named; See, for example, improper fraction
  • verb obsolete, transitive To appropriate; to limit.
  • verb obsolete To behave improperly

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective not suitable or right or appropriate
  • adjective not appropriate for a purpose or occasion
  • adjective not conforming to legality, moral law, or social convention

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin improprius ("not proper"), from in- + proprius ("proper").

Examples

  • The sudden opening of the door aroused them to a sense of their improper situation; for who but must consider it _improper_ to find a young lady locked in the arms of a gentleman to whom she had just been introduced?

    Alonzo and Melissa The Unfeeling Father

  • In a tearful news conference, Kosako said he could not stay and allow the government to set what he called improper radiation limits of 20 millisieverts a year for elementary schools in areas near the plant.

    Criticism up on Japan PM's handling of nuke crisis

  • Quantity and Quality, which are proper and intrinsic, and those in the other six categories, excluding Relation, which he calls improper and extrinsic.

    Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

  • "They are what you call improper, eh?" she laughed, referring to the tales.

    The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne : a Novel

  • On Friday night, many marched to Police Headquarters to criticize what they described as the improper tactics that the police had used against their movement.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Government watchdogs in Harrisburg denounced what they called improper use of state resources and complained that the governor last week called the DUI arrest a personal matter.

    The Goalkeeper

  • On Friday night, many marched to Police Headquarters to criticize what they described as the improper tactics that the police had used against their movement.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Attorneys for the second man charged with a deadly Connecticut home invasion want the location for his trial changed, citing prejudicial publicity from the first trial, and want the judge handling the case removed for what they call improper comments.

    ABC News: Top Stories

  • On Friday night, many marched to Police Headquarters to criticize what they described as the improper tactics that the police had used against their movement.

    NYT > Home Page

  • On Friday night, many marched to Police Headquarters to criticize what they described as the improper tactics police used.

    The Seattle Times

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