from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Characterized by appropriateness or suitability; fitting: the proper knife for cutting bread; not a proper moment for a joke.
  • adj. Called for by rules or conventions; correct: the proper form for a business letter.
  • adj. Strictly following rules or conventions, especially in social behavior; seemly: a proper lady; a proper gentleman.
  • adj. Belonging to one; own: restored to his proper shape by the magician.
  • adj. Characteristically belonging to the being or thing in question; peculiar: an optical effect proper to fluids.
  • adj. Being within the strictly limited sense, as of a term designating something: the town proper, excluding the suburbs.
  • adj. Ecclesiastical For use in the liturgy of a particular feast or season of the year.
  • adj. Mathematics Of or relating to a subset of a given set when the set has at least one element not in the subset.
  • adj. Worthy of the name; true: wanted a proper dinner, not just a snack.
  • adj. Out-and-out; thorough: a proper whipping.
  • adv. Thoroughly: beat the eggs good and proper.
  • n. Ecclesiastical The parts of the liturgy that vary according to the particular feast or season of the year.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Suitable.
  • adj. Possessed, related.
  • adj. Accurate, strictly applied.
  • adv. properly; thoroughly; completely
  • adv. properly

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to one; one's own; individual.
  • adj. Belonging to the natural or essential constitution; peculiar; not common; particular.
  • adj. Befitting one's nature, qualities, etc.; suitable in all respect; appropriate; right; fit; decent
  • adj. Becoming in appearance; well formed; handsome.
  • adj. Pertaining to one of a species, but not common to the whole; not appellative; -- opposed to common
  • adj. Rightly so called; strictly considered
  • adj. Represented in its natural color; -- said of any object used as a charge.
  • adv. Properly; hence, to a great degree; very.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Special; peculiar; belonging to a species or individual and to nothing else; springing from the peculiar nature of a given species or individual; particularly suited to or befitting one's nature; natural; original.
  • Belonging to one; one's own.
  • Fit; suitable; appropriate.
  • According to recognized usage; correct; just: as, a proper word; a proper expression.
  • Rightly so called, named, or described; taken in a strict sense: in this sense usually following the noun: as, the apes proper belong to the Old World; no shell-fish are fishes proper.
  • Decent; correct in behavior; respectable; such as should be: as, proper conduct.
  • Well-formed; good-looking; personable; handsome; also, physically strong or active.
  • In heraldry, having its natural color or colors: said of any object used as a bearing: thus, a coil of rope proper is represented brown, and the spiral lines of the cordage are indicated.
  • In liturgics, used only on a particular day or festival, or during a particular octave or season: as, the proper introit; a proper preface; proper psalms.
  • Fine; pretty: said ironically of what is absurd or objectionable.
  • Becoming; deserved.
  • Synonyms Particular, individual, specific.
  • 3 and Fitting, befitting, meet, seemly, becoming, legitimate.
  • n. That which is set apart to special or individual use.
  • n. A property in the logical sense.
  • Properly; very; exceedingly.
  • To appropriate.
  • To make proper; adorn.
  • In geometry, not figurative; not at infinity: as, proper points.

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

  • adj. having all the qualities typical of the thing specified
  • adj. marked by suitability or rightness or appropriateness
  • adj. limited to the thing specified
  • adj. appropriate for a condition or purpose or occasion or a person's character, needs


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English propre, from Old French, from Latin proprius; see per1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman proper, propre, Old French propre (French: propre), and their source, Latin proprius.



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  • IrE; In AmE this has a moralistic tone not connoted in IrE. Closest analogue in AmE is to double the word (i.e. use reduplication)

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