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From French propriétaire, from Latin proprietārius. By surface analysis, propriety +‎ -ary. Compare with the Latin proprietas (property) and proprius (ownership).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɹəˈpɹaɪ.ə.tə.ɹi/, /pɹəˈpɹaɪ.ə.tɹi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pɹəˈpɹaɪ.ə.tɛ.ɹi/
  • (file)


proprietary (comparative more proprietary, superlative most proprietary)

  1. Of or relating to property or ownership.
    proprietary rights
  2. Owning something; having ownership.
    the proprietary class
  3. Created or manufactured exclusively by the owner of intellectual property rights, as with a patent or trade secret.
    The continuous profitability of the company is based on its many proprietary products.
    • 1996, Michael Craig Budden, Protecting Trade Secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act: Practical Advice for Executives, Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, →ISBN, page 20:
      It was reported that the recipes for the secret sauce and grinder sandwiches were proprietary, known only to the current president of the corporation and the former owner of the restaurant.
  4. Nonstandard and controlled by one particular organization.
    a proprietary extension to the HTML standard for Web page structure
  5. Privately owned.
    a proprietary lake; a proprietary chapel
  6. (of a person) Possessive, jealous, or territorial.

Derived terms[edit]



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


proprietary (plural proprietaries)

  1. A proprietor or owner.
    • 1647, Thomas Fuller, The Cause and Cure of a Wounded Conscience:
      Wherefore what issue soever shall result from my mind , by his means most happily married to a retired life , must , of due , redound to his honour , as the sole proprietary of my pains during my present condition
  2. A body of proprietors, taken collectively.
  3. The rights of a proprietor.
  4. A monk who had reserved goods and belongings to himself, notwithstanding his renunciation of all at the time of profession.
  5. (espionage) A company doing legitimate business while also serving as a front for espionage.
    • 1975, Victor Marchetti, John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, page 159:
      For all practical purposes, the proprietaries conduct their own financial affairs with a minimum of oversight from CIA headquarters.
    • 2013, Joseph Goulden, The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English, page 175:
      The “operating proprietaries” actually do business as private firms. They are incorporated where they are officed, they file the applicable state and federal tax returns, and they obtain the licenses necessary to a legitimate business operation.