What does proper mean?

Definitions for proper
ˈprɒp ərprop·er

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word proper.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. properadjective

    marked by suitability or rightness or appropriateness

    "proper medical treatment"; "proper manners"

  2. proper(a)adjective

    having all the qualities typical of the thing specified

    "wanted a proper dinner; not just a snack"; "he finally has a proper job"

  3. proper(ip)adjective

    limited to the thing specified

    "the city proper"; "his claim is connected with the deed proper"

  4. proper, rightadjective

    appropriate for a condition or purpose or occasion or a person's character, needs

    "everything in its proper place"; "the right man for the job"; "she is not suitable for the position"


  1. properadverb

    properly; thoroughly; completely

  2. properadjective


  3. properadjective

    Possessed, related.

  4. properadjective

    Accurate, strictly applied.

  5. Etymology: From proper, propre, propre (French: propre), and their source, proprius.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. PROPERadjective

    Etymology: propre, Fr. proprius, Latin.

    As for the virtues that belong unto moral righteousness and honesty of life, we do not mention them, because they are not proper unto christian men as they are christian, but do concern them as they are men. Richard Hooker.

    Men of learning hold it for a slip in judgment, when offer is made to demonstrate that as proper to one thing, which reason findeth common unto many. Richard Hooker.

    No sense the precious joys conceives,
    Which in her private contemplations be;
    For then the ravish’d spirit the senses leaves,
    Hath her own pow’rs, and proper actions free. Davies.

    Of nought no creature ever formed ought,
    For that is proper to th’ Almighty’s hand. Davies.

    Dufresnoy’s rules, concerning the posture of the figures, are almost wholly proper to painting, and admit not any comparison with poetry. John Dryden, Dufresnoy.

    Outward objects, that are extrinsecal to the mind, and its own operations, proceeding from powers intrinsecal and proper to itself, which become also objects of its contemplation, are the original of all knowledge. John Locke.

    A proper name may become common, when given to several beings of the same kind; as Cæsar. Isaac Watts.

    The bloody book of law
    You shall yourself read in the bitter letter,
    After your own sense; yea, though our proper son
    Stood in your action. William Shakespeare, Othello.

    Court the age
    With somewhat of your proper rage. Edmund Waller.

    If we might determine it, our proper conceptions would be all voted axioms. Joseph Glanvill, Sceps.

    Now learn the diff’rence at your proper cost,
    Betwixt true valour and an empty boast. Dryden.

    In our proper motion we ascend
    Up to our native seat. John Milton.

    In Athens all was pleasure, mirth and play,
    All proper to the spring, and sprightly May. Dryden.

    He is the only proper person of all others for an Epic poem, who, to his natural endowments of a large invention, a ripe judgment, and a strong memory, has joined the knowledge of the liberal arts. Dryden.

    In debility, from great loss of blood, wine and all aliment, that is easily assimilated or turned into blood, are proper: for blood is required to make blood. Arbuthnot.

    Those parts of nature, into which the chaos was divided, they signified by dark names, which we have expressed in their plain and proper terms. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth.

    See thyself, devil;
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    So horrid as in woman. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    Moses was a proper child. Heb. xi. 23.

    At last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy. William Shakespeare.

    A proper goodly fox was carrying to execution. Roger L'Estrange.


  1. proper

    Proper generally refers to something that is correctly done or behaving in a suitable or appropriate manner according to rules, conventions, standards or principles. It can also denote something specific or special, belonging or relating to, specific individuals or characteristics.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Properadjective

    belonging to one; one's own; individual

  2. Properadjective

    belonging to the natural or essential constitution; peculiar; not common; particular; as, every animal has his proper instincts and appetites

  3. Properadjective

    befitting one's nature, qualities, etc.; suitable in all respect; appropriate; right; fit; decent; as, water is the proper element for fish; a proper dress

  4. Properadjective

    becoming in appearance; well formed; handsome

  5. Properadjective

    pertaining to one of a species, but not common to the whole; not appellative; -- opposed to common; as, a proper name; Dublin is the proper name of a city

  6. Properadjective

    rightly so called; strictly considered; as, Greece proper; the garden proper

  7. Properadjective

    represented in its natural color; -- said of any object used as a charge

  8. Properadverb

    properly; hence, to a great degree; very; as, proper good

  9. Etymology: [OE. propre, F. propre, fr. L. proprius. Cf. Appropriate.]


  1. Proper

    The Proper is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the Liturgical Year, or of a particular saint or significant event. The term is used in contrast to the ordinary, which is that part of the liturgy that is reasonably constant, or at least selected without regard to date, or to the common, which contains those parts of the liturgy that are common to an entire category of saints, such as Apostles or Martyrs. Propers may include hymns and prayers in the Canonical Hours and in the Eucharist.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Proper

    prop′ėr, adj. one's own: fitted for a person's nature or qualities: peculiar: belonging to only one of a species (as a name): natural: suitable: correct: just: right: becoming: (B.) comely, pretty: in liturgics, used only on a particular day or festival.—n. something set apart for a special use.—adv. (coll.) very, exceedingly.—adv. Prop′erly, in a proper manner: (coll.) entirely, extremely.—n. Prop′erness.—Properly speaking, in the strict sense: speaking without qualification. [Fr. propre—L. proprius, one's own, akin to prope, near.]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. proper

    A term which serves to mark out a thing more especially and formally. Thus, the proper form of a battalion is the usual continuity of line given to the formation of a battalion, and which remains unaltered by the wheelings of its divisions; or if altered, is restored by the same operation. Proper right, is the right of a battalion, company, or subdivision, when it is drawn up according to its natural formation. Proper pivot flank, in column, is that which, when wheeled up to, preserves the division of the line in the natural order, and to their proper front. The other may be called the reverse flank.

  2. proper

    In heraldry, a charge borne of its natural color, is said to be proper. An object whose color varies at different times and in different examples, as a rose which may be white or red cannot be borne proper.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Proper is ranked #11456 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Proper surname appeared 2,750 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Proper.

    94.3% or 2,594 total occurrences were White.
    2.2% or 62 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1.3% or 37 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    0.9% or 25 total occurrences were Black.
    0.7% or 20 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.4% or 12 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'proper' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1730

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'proper' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1016

  3. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'proper' in Adjectives Frequency: #196

How to pronounce proper?

How to say proper in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of proper in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of proper in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of proper in a Sentence

  1. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal:

    I think we'll have a bigger conversation first within the Republican Party, then with the American people about what's the proper role of the federal government, i do hope that Common Core will be one more, one more reason for us to have this bigger debate, this bigger conversation about the proper role of the federal government in local education.

  2. Ayn Rand:

    The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may only resort to force only against those who start the use of force.

  3. Isaac Asimov:

    Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments.

  4. Richard Waites:

    One of the things that I am seeing, not just in Baltimore but in other places, is an overuse of gag orders, the proper use of a gag order is to protect a party's rights of some kind. To protect information from going out to the public because it might cause problems -- I don't think that's a proper use of gag orders.

  5. Jeff Leggit:

    We’re promoting a healthy lifestyle for service members and their families.: proper nutrition, proper sleep and proper exercise. It’s a team effort.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for proper

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • لائقArabic
  • adequatCatalan, Valencian
  • slušný, vlastní, pravý, pořádný, správnýCzech
  • richtig, angemessen, eigentlich, Eigenname, passend, eigenGerman
  • adecuada, adecuado, conveniente, precisoSpanish
  • oikea, kunnon, kelpo, erisnimi, luonnonvärinen, varsinainen, kunnollinenFinnish
  • juste, propre, convenable, exact, appropriéFrench
  • iomchaidhScottish Gaelic
  • ראויHebrew
  • उचितHindi
  • tulajdonnév, tényleges, saját, megfelelőHungarian
  • համապատասխան, պատշաճArmenian
  • proprio, decente, appropriato, adattoItalian
  • まとも, 厳密, 固有, 適当, 完全, ふさわしい, 徹底した, 上品, 妥当, 特有, 品の良い, 適した, 完璧, 元, 独特, きちんとした, 本来, 適切, 全くJapanese
  • په‌سه‌ندKurdish
  • сопствен, соодветен, пристоен, вистински, свој, добар, умесен, самиот, правилен, погоден, личен, прикладен, правMacedonian
  • echt, grondig, juist, compleet, goed, eigen, eigenlijk, volslagen, keurig, net, geschikt, degelijk, zelf, deugdelijk, gepastDutch
  • høvelig, egentlig, ordentlig, skikkelig, riktig, sann, egen, veloppdragent, korrekt, passende, høviskNorwegian
  • właściwyPolish
  • propriamente dito, adequado, por completo, próprio, apropriado, decente, completoPortuguese
  • propriuRomanian
  • как таковой, круглый, надлежащий, собственный, настоящий, подходящий, самый, соответствующий, полный, правильныйRussian
  • lämplig, proper, riktig, egen, passande, äkta, egennamn, egentligSwedish
  • düzgünTurkish
  • اچتUrdu

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"proper." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 1 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/proper>.

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    (law) a broad legal concept including anything that disturbs the reasonable use of your property or endangers life and health or is offensive
    • A. integrity
    • B. investigating
    • C. temptation
    • D. nuisance

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