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n. pl. im·pro·pri·e·ties
1. The quality or condition of being improper.
2. An improper act.
3. An improper or unacceptable usage in speech or writing.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -ties
1. lack of propriety; indecency; indecorum
2. an improper act or use
3. the state of being improper
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌɪm prəˈpraɪ ɪ ti)

n., pl. -ties.
1. the quality or condition of being improper.
2. inappropriateness; unsuitableness.
3. unseemliness; indecorousness.
4. an erroneous or unsuitable expression or act.
5. an improper use of language.
[1605–15; < Late Latin]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.




  1. About as risqué as a bed in a hospital —George Jean Nathan
  2. All wrong … like a priest for whom one has a great respect suddenly taking his trousers off in church —Daphne du Maurier
  3. Decorously as an old maid on the way to get her hair dyed blue —A. E. Maxwell
  4. Improper as thumbing your nose at the pope —Anon
  5. Prim as Hippolytus —Stevie Smith
  6. (Girls, at sixteen, for all our strictures, are) proper as Puritans —Phyllis McGinley
  7. Proper like the hostesses in restaurants frequented by women shoppers —Ludwig Bemelmans
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



beyond the pale Beyond the limits of propriety or courtesy; outside the bounds of civilized behavior. The word pale comes from the Latin palus ‘stake’ (cf. palisade), hence an enclosing or confining barrier; limits or boundaries. The phrase originally had a more literal meaning (still sometimes used today) ‘outside an enclosed area’ and by extension, ‘outside one’s jurisdiction or territory.’

cross [someone’s] bows See VEXATION.

do you know Dr. Wright of Norwich? A mildly sarcastic comment made to someone at a dinner party who does not pass the decanter, preventing other guests from helping themselves to wine. The popular story which gives the background for this British expression involves a man known as Dr. Wright of Norwich, a charming guest and gifted conversationalist. Asking a dinner guest, “Do you know Dr. Wright of Norwich?” implies that the person is holding up the decanter, as Dr. Wright was wont to do, but unlike the good Doctor, not compensating for this breach of manners by entertaining the company with enlivening conversation.

gate crasher One who attends a social affair, athletic event, etc., without the proper admission credentials; an uninvited, unwanted guest. This expression has entered into wide use among the youthful, concert-going crowd in reference to their more belligerent peers who sneak or force their ways into crowded rock concerts. The term is literally used for persons who gain entry to an event by actually smashing down barriers. The phrase has been in use for most of this century.

“One-eyed Connolly,” the champion American “gate crasher” (one who gains admittance to big sporting events without payment.) {Daily News, June, 1927)

pigs in clover Well-to-do and supposedly refined people who act in a boorish manner; parvenus. Figuratively, a pig is a person with the characteristics or habits commonly associated with that animal, while in clover implies luxury or wealth; hence the expression. See also in clover, AFFLUENCE.

put one’s foot in one’s mouth To say something inappropriate, gauche, or indiscreet; to commit a verbal faux pas. This expression implies that by saying something out of line, a person has figuratively put his foot in his mouth, an imprudent and untoward activity in any situation. A variation is put one’s foot in it.

I put my foot into it (as we say), for
I was nearly killed. (Frederick Marryat, Peter Simple, 1833)

A related, more contemporary expression is foot-in-mouth disease, a play on hoof-and-mouth disease of cattle, and a jocular reference to an affliction in which a person exhibits a marked tendency to constantly “put his foot in his mouth.”

sail close to the wind To act in a manner that verges on the illegal, immoral, or improper; to say or do something that borders on being in bad taste; to observe the letter but not the spirit of the law. Literally, to sail close to the wind is to head one’s ship into the wind at enough of an angle to keep the sails filled. This is a risky tactic as the ship is in constant danger of being in irons if there is even a slight change in the wind direction. Figuratively, this expression implies that one’s words or actions put him in a precarious position because they are so close to the limits of propriety.

A certain kind of young English gentleman, who has sailed too close to the wind at home, and who comes to the colony to be whitewashed. (Henry Kingsley, The Hilly ars and the Burtons, 1865)

A variation is sail near to the wind.

step on toes To upset, offend, or irritate, especially by encroaching on someone’s territory; to overstep one’s bounds. Literally stepping on someone’s toes is a violation of space or territory. On a figurative level, the “territory” usually refers to one’s area of responsibility or realm of authority. The expression is often said of an upstart who prematurely assumes authority or responsibility delegated to someone else. An OED citation dates the expression from the 14th century, but whether the use was literal or figurative is difficult to determine.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.impropriety - an improper demeanor
demeanor, demeanour, deportment, behaviour, conduct, behavior - (behavioral attributes) the way a person behaves toward other people
incorrectness - lack of conformity to social expectations
inappropriateness, wrongness - inappropriate conduct
indelicacy - the trait of being indelicate and offensive
indecorousness, indecorum - a lack of decorum
indecency - the quality of being indecent
correctitude, properness, propriety - correct or appropriate behavior
2.impropriety - the condition of being improper
condition, status - a state at a particular time; "a condition (or state) of disrepair"; "the current status of the arms negotiations"
3.impropriety - an indecent or improper act
misbehavior, misbehaviour, misdeed - improper or wicked or immoral behavior
obscenity - an obscene act
4.impropriety - an act of undue intimacyimpropriety - an act of undue intimacy    
misbehavior, misbehaviour, misdeed - improper or wicked or immoral behavior
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun (Formal)
1. indecency, vulgarity, immodesty, bad taste, incongruity, unsuitability, indecorum Inviting him up to your hotel room would smack of impropriety.
indecency decency, delicacy, modesty, suitability, propriety, decorum
2. lapse, mistake, slip, blunder, gaffe, bloomer (Brit. informal), faux pas, solecism, gaucherie He resigned amid allegations of financial impropriety.
"Impropriety is the soul of wit" [W. Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


2. An improper act or statement:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
عَدَم لياقَه، عَدَم مُناسَبَه
helytelen szóhasználat
ótilhlÿîileiki; dónaskapur


[ˌɪmprəˈpraɪətɪ] N [of person, behaviour] (= unseemliness) → incorrección f, falta f de decoro; (= indecency) → indecencia f; [of language] → impropiedad f; (= illicit nature) → deshonestidad f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌɪmprəˈpraɪɪti] n
[behaviour] → inconvenance f
the impropriety of publicly reading private letters → l'inconvenance qui consiste à lire en public des lettres d'ordre privé
[expression] → impropriété f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nUnschicklichkeit f; (of behaviour etc, language, remark)Ungehörigkeit f; (= indecency: of jokes etc) → Unanständigkeit f; sexual/financial improprietysexuelles/finanzielles Fehlverhalten
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌɪmprəˈpraɪətɪ] n (frm) (of behaviour) → scorrettezza; (unseemliness, indecency) → sconvenienza; (of expression) → improprietà f inv
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(imˈpropə) adjective
(of behaviour etc) not acceptable; indecent; wrong. improper suggestions.
impropriety (imprəˈpraiəti) noun
improper fraction
a fraction which is larger than 1. 7/5 is an improper fraction.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
She was NOW struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before.
The present crisis, indeed, seemed to be brought on by them; and those misunderstandings might very possibly arise from the impropriety of his conduct."
Her behaviour, I confess, has been calculated to do away with such an idea; I have not detected the smallest impropriety in it--nothing of vanity, of pretension, of levity; and she is altogether so attractive that I should not wonder at his being delighted with her, had he known nothing of her previous to this personal acquaintance; but, against reason, against conviction, to be so well pleased with her, as I am sure he is, does really astonish me.
This lady was now somewhat past the age of thirty, an aera at which, in the opinion of the malicious, the title of old maid may with no impropriety be assumed.
Jay, aware that impropriety is the soul of wit, made observations in tones hardly above a whisper that might well have tinged the snowy tablecloth with a rosy hue.
Sir Thomas saw all the impropriety of such a scheme among such a party, and at such a time, as strongly as his son had ever supposed he must; he felt it too much, indeed, for many words; and having shaken hands with Edmund, meant to try to lose the disagreeable impression, and forget how much he had been forgotten himself as soon as he could, after the house had been cleared of every object enforcing the remembrance, and restored to its proper state.
De Guiche had hoped that the Duke of Buckingham would accompany the admiral to England; but Buckingham succeeded in demonstrating to the queen that there would be great impropriety in allowing Madame to proceed to Paris almost unprotected.
I should hold myself guilty of greater impropriety in accepting a horse from my brother, than from Willoughby.
Vanstone's character which Miss Garth, after many years of intimate experience, had never detected, she accepted the explanation as a matter of course; receiving it all the more readily inasmuch as it might, without impropriety, be communicated in substance to appease the irritated curiosity of the two young ladies.
There are other lights besides those already taken notice of, in which the impropriety of restraints on the discretion of the national legislature will be equally manifest.
Vyse was an acquaintance of her mother, so there was no impropriety in the plan and Miss Bartlett had replied that she was quite used to being abandoned suddenly.
Cursing his temerity, his heart sinking at the thought of finding himself at any moment face to face with the Emperor and being put to shame and arrested in his presence, fully alive now to the impropriety of his conduct and repenting of it, Rostov, with downcast eyes, was making his way out of the house through the brilliant suite when a familiar voice called him and a hand detained him.