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



proper ‎(comparative more proper, superlative most proper)

  1. (heading) Suitable.
    1. Suited or acceptable to the purpose or circumstances; fit, suitable. [from 13thc.]
      the proper time to plant potatoes
      • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
        The proper study of mankind is man.
      • 2014 June 14, “It's a gas”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8891:
        One of the hidden glories of Victorian engineering is proper drains. Isolating a city’s effluent and shipping it away in underground sewers has probably saved more lives than any medical procedure except vaccination.
    2. Following the established standards of behavior or manners; correct or decorous. [from 18thc.]
      a very proper young lady
      • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
        This new-comer was a man who in any company would have seemed striking. [] Indeed, all his features were in large mold, like the man himself, as though he had come from a day when skin garments made the proper garb of men.
  2. (heading) Possessed, related.
    1. (grammar) Used to designate a particular person, place, or thing. Proper words are usually written with an initial capital letter. [from 14thc.]
    2. Pertaining exclusively to a specific thing or person; particular. [from 14thc.]
    3. (usually postpositive) In the strict sense; within the strict definition or core (of a specified place, taxonomic order, idea, etc).
      • 1893, Annual of the Universal Medical Sciences:
        These are divided into two great families, the vipers proper (Viperidae) and the pit-vipers (Crotalidae).
      • 1976, Eu-Yang Kwang, The political reconstruction of China, page 165:
        Siberia, though it stands outside the territorial confines of Russia proper, constitutes an essentially component part [] . Outer Mongolia, [so called] to distinguish it from Inner Mongolia, which lies nearer to China proper, revolted and declared its independence.
      • 2004, Stress, the Brain and Depression, page 24:
        Hence, this border is still blurred, raising the question whether traumatic life events induce sadness/distress – which is self-evident – or depression proper and, secondly, whether sadness/distress is a precursor or pacemaker of depression.
      • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:proper.
    4. (archaic) Belonging to oneself or itself; own. [from 14thc.]
    5. (heraldry) Portrayed in natural or usual coloration, as opposed to conventional tinctures. [from 16thc.]
    6. (mathematics, physics) Eigen-; designating a function or value which is an eigenfunction or eigenvalue. [from 20thc.]
  3. (heading) Accurate, strictly applied.
    1. Excellent, of high quality; such as the specific person or thing should ideally be. (Now often merged with later senses.) [from 14thc.]
      Now that was a proper breakfast.
    2. (now regional) Attractive, elegant. [from 14thc.]
      • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts VII:
        The same tyme was Moses borne, and was a propper [transl. ἀστεῖος ‎(asteîos)] childe in the sight of God, which was norisshed up in his fathers housse thre monethes.
    3. (often postpositive) In the very strictest sense of the word. [from 14thc.]
      • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 16:
        Though unusual in the Dublin area he knew that it was not by any means unknown for desperadoes who had next to nothing to live on to be abroad waylaying and generally terrorising peaceable pedestrians by placing a pistol at their head in some secluded spot outside the city proper [].
    4. (now colloquial) Utter, complete. [from 15thc.]
      When I realized I was wearing my shirt inside out, I felt a proper fool.



Related terms[edit]


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See also[edit]


proper ‎(not comparable)

  1. (Scotland) properly; thoroughly; completely
    • 1964, Saint Andrew Society (Glasgow, Scotland), The Scots magazine: Volume 82
      Don't you think you must have looked proper daft?
  2. (nonstandard, slang) properly
    • 2012, Soufside, Hello (song)
      When I meet a bad chick, know I gotta tell her hello
      talk real proper, but she straight up out the ghetto


Most common English words before 1923: tears · expected · considered · #757: proper · writing · allowed · per




proper m ‎(feminine propera, masculine plural propers, feminine plural properes)

  1. near, close
  2. neighbouring
  3. next


Related terms[edit]



From French propre ‎(clean, house-trained, own), from Latin proprius ‎(own).


  • IPA(key): /proːbər/, [ˈpʰʁ̥oːˀb̥ɐ]


proper ‎(neuter propert, definite and plural propre)

  1. cleanly
  2. tidy

Derived terms[edit]




  • IPA(key): /ˈproː.pər/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: pro‧per


From Middle Dutch proper, from Old French propre, from Latin proprius.


proper ‎(comparative properder, superlative properst)

  1. (chiefly Belgium) clean


Inflection of proper
uninflected proper
inflected propere
comparative properder
positive comparative superlative
predicative/adverbial proper properder het properst
het properste
indefinite m./f. sing. propere properdere properste
n. sing. proper properder properste
plural propere properdere properste
definite propere properdere properste
partitive propers properders


  1. netjes, rein, zindelijk.
  2. (Netherlands) schoon.



Ultimately from Old French propre, from Latin proprius. Probably borrowed in north-western dialects via Middle Dutch proper [13th c., sense: 15th c.], later generalized under the influence of modern French propre. The colloquial euphemism for “chubby” may, in part, be due to association with Proppen (whence also proppenvoll and Wonneproppen).



proper ‎(comparative properer, superlative am propersten)

  1. (somewhat informal) in good condition: clean; neat; well-kept; developed
    Bis vor Kurzem herrschte hier bittere Armut, aber jetzt ist es ein ganz properes Städtchen geworden.
    Until recently bitter poverty prevailed around here, but now it’s become rather a neat little town.
  2. (colloquial, euphemistic) overweight; chubby
    Die Linda war doch immer so’ne Schlanke, aber jetzt sieht sie ziemlich proper aus.
    Linda was always a slender one, but now she looks pretty chubby.


External links[edit]

Old French[edit]


proper m ‎(oblique and nominative feminine singular proper)

  1. (rare) Alternative form of propre
    • Or a mai entendez Ki proper volunté amez, Set Pechez 70