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

  • n. The quality of being proper; appropriateness.
  • n. Conformity to prevailing customs and usages.
  • n. The usages and customs of polite society.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. correctness in behaviour and morals
  • n. fitness; the quality of being appropriate

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Individual right to hold property; ownership by personal title; property.
  • n. That which is proper or peculiar; an inherent property or quality; peculiarity.
  • n. The quality or state of being proper; suitableness to an acknowledged or correct standard or rule; consonance with established principles, rules, or customs; fitness; appropriateness

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Peculiar or exclusive right of possession; ownership; possession; property.
  • n. That which is proper or peculiar; property; peculiarity.
  • n. An estate; a holding.
  • n. Suitableness to an acknowledged or correct standard or rule; consonance with established principles, rules, or customs; fitness; justness; correctness.
  • n. Individuality; particular or proper state.

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

  • n. correct or appropriate behavior


Middle English propriete, particular character, ownership, from Old French; see property.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined between 1425 and 1475 from late Middle English propriete ("ownership"), from Middle French proprieté, from Latin proprietās (Wiktionary)


  • The passion to know, in the face of censure and propriety, is what advances our understanding of the world.

    Bonk by Mary Roach: Book summary

  • Blogathon actions are unusual, and the best way to ensure propriety is to do it through their system.


  • Now propriety is another matter, a matter of judgment.

    NASA's Jim Hansen Engages In Personal Foreign Policy - NASA Watch

  • Victorian propriety is an important element of the story, the atmosphere to be upended over and over by slapstick action and sudden death.

    Archive 2008-02-01

  • The Scotsman reports (here) on how a second SNP Minister has been smelt out for having a large shareholding that, to most people with any sense of propriety, is a clear potential conflict of interest with his position as minister.

    Second SNP Minister in Shares Scandal

  • Its author (possibly Nassau Senior or Southey himself) purports to trace the history of injunctions back to the 18th century, when the Court of Chancery took over issues of literary propriety from the common law courts.

    A Brief Publication History of _Wat Tyler_

  • His sense of propriety is widely shared: Few gay parties occur in the country during the holy month.

    The Kingdom in the Closet

  • It should always have a slight Man Men air about it, and holding itself to outdated standards of propriety is a fine way to accomplish that.

    NYTimes: Not Fucked Up

  • I'm just not sure what the propriety is of her being the administration spokesman when no one voted for her.


  • Thoughts may be valuable in themselves, but words are meaningless unless communicated, valuable only in publication -- yet in publication their propriety is lost.



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  • "I find such a pleasure, sir, in obeying your commands, that I take care to observe them without ever debating their propriety."
    Goldsmith, She Stoops, III

    January 11, 2007