Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to propriety: proprietary, lack of propriety


n. pl. pro·pri·e·ties
a. Conformity to conventional standards of behavior or morality.
b. proprieties Socially correct usages or behaviors.
2. The quality of being proper; appropriateness.

[Middle English propriete, particular character, ownership, from Old French; see property.]


n, pl -ties
1. the quality or state of being appropriate or fitting
2. conformity to the prevailing standard of behaviour, speech, etc
3. the proprieties (plural) the standards of behaviour considered correct by polite society
[C15: from Old French propriété, from Latin proprietās a peculiarity, from proprius one's own]


(prəˈpraɪ ɪ ti)

n., pl. -ties.
1. conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners.
2. appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances; suitability.
3. rightness or justness.
4. the proprieties, the conventional standards of proper behavior; manners.
5. Obs. a property.
6. Obs. a peculiarity or characteristic of something.
[1425–75; late Middle English propriete ownership, something owned, one's own nature (compare variant proprete property) < Middle French propriété < Latin proprietās peculiarity, ownership =propri(us) proper + -etās, variant, after vowels, of -itās -ity]




  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




according to Cocker By the book; in strict accordance with the rules; proper, correct. This British expression comes from the name of Edward Cocker (1631-75), arithmetician and author of several books including a well-known Arithmetick, viewed by many as the last word on correctness. Despite the work’s popularity and authoritativeness, it is thought to have been a forgery.

according to Gunter This is the American answer to the British expression according to Cocker. In use as early as 1713, it was taken from the name of Edmund Gunter (1581–1626), famed English mathematician, astronomer, and inventor. Apparently neither the British expression nor its American equivalent is very well known on the opposite side of the ocean.

The average American may not know what we mean by according to Cocker; while the average Englishman may be unaware of the meaning of according to Gunter. (G. A. Sala, Illustrated London News, November 24, 1883)

according to Hoyle By the book; in strict accordance with standard usage or rules; absolutely correct. A close synonym of according to Cocker and according to Gunter, this expression derives from the name of Edmond Hoyle, an 18th-century English writer. Hoyle was one of the first experts on the card game whist, which he spent several years teaching, and he did much to improve the game. His A Short Treatise on Whist, published in 1743, established him once and for all as the leading authority on the rules of the game. He was later to put together a whole encyclopedia of the rules of numerous other games. By extension his name has come to mean ‘by the rules; correct.’

cricket Fair play, gentlemanly behavior, honorable conduct; especially in the phrase not cricket ‘unfair, not proper, ungentlemanly.’ Cricket is a popular British sport whose name has become synonymous with fair play because of the honorable and proper conduct expected from players of this game. The term dates from 1851.

keep one’s nose clean To behave properly or appropriately, to keep out of trouble, to maintain a spotless record. This expression, which dates from at least 1887, is thought to have a vulgar origin.

Do what people tell you, keep your nose clean and work out your academic progress. (Neil Armstrong et al., First on the Moon, 1970)

mind one’s p’s and q’s To act or speak in a proper and dignified manner; to be on one’s best behavior; to mind one’s own business. There are several suggested derivations of this expression, the most likely of which alludes to a child’s difficulty in distinguishing the letter “p” from the letter “q” because of their similar appearance. One source suggests that the expression may have been originated by King Louis XIV of France who advised his formally dressed noblemen that they could avoid disturbing their ornate attire by minding their pieds ‘feet’ and queues ‘wigs.’ Another source postulates that barkeeps may have said, “Mind your p’s and q’s!” to remind an alehouse patron that he had chalked up a large bill by ordering pints (p’s) and quarts (q’s) on credit.

He minds his P’s and Q’s—and keeps himself respectable. (William S. Gilbert, Utopia Limited, 1893)

put one’s best foot forward To make a good impression, to show one-self off to advantage. This grammatically puzzling expression may have developed by merger of its earlier form best side outward with the expression get off on the right foot (BEGINNINGS).

A conceited man, and one that would put the best side outward. (Samuel Pepys, Diary, 1663)

stick to one’s last To keep to the field of one’s prowess; not to meddle in affairs of which one is ignorant. In this expression, last refers to a foot model with which shoes are shaped. According to ancient legend, Apelles, a famous Greek artist, showed one of his paintings to a cobbler, who immediately detected an error in the artist’s rendering of a laced shoe. After the artist corrected this flaw, the shoemaker overstepped himself by criticizing the artist’s depiction of the legs. Apelles is purported to have replied “stick to your last.” This legend is supported by the fact that the expression was originally a cobbler should stick to his last before it evolved its current form. The phrase’s figurative sense was illustrated by Thomas Barbour, as cited in Webster’s Third:

Curators … shirk any responsibility for exhibits and … want to stick to their lasts in the research collections.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.propriety - correct or appropriate behavior
demeanor, demeanour, deportment, behaviour, conduct, behavior - (behavioral attributes) the way a person behaves toward other people
decorousness, decorum - propriety in manners and conduct
appropriateness, rightness - appropriate conduct; doing the right thing
correctness - the quality of conformity to social expectations
good form - behavior that conforms to social conventions of the time; "it is not good form to brag about winning"
priggishness, primness - exaggerated and arrogant properness
reserve, modesty - formality and propriety of manner
seemliness, grace - a sense of propriety and consideration for others; "a place where the company of others must be accepted with good grace"
decency - the quality of conforming to standards of propriety and morality
improperness, impropriety - an improper demeanor


plural noun
1. etiquette, niceties, civilities, amenities, the done thing, social graces, rules of conduct, social conventions, social code, accepted conduct respectable couples who observe the proprieties but loathe each other


1. Conformity to recognized standards, as of conduct or appearance:
2. The moral quality of a course of action:
3. Socially correct behavior.Also used in plural:
4. A courteous act or courteous acts that contribute to smoothness and ease in dealings and social relationships.Used in plural:
لياقَه، إحْتِشام، آداب السُّلوك
elgesio normos
piedienībapieklājībauzvedības normas
toplumsal ve ahlâksal davranış uygunluğu


[prəˈpraɪətɪ] N
1. (= decency) → decoro m, decencia f
breach of proprietyofensa f contra el decoro, incorrección f
the proprietieslos cánones sociales
to observe the proprietiesatenerse a los cánones sociales
2. (= appropriateness) → conveniencia f


(= seemliness) → bienséance f, convenance f
(= correctness) to act with propriety → agir avec correction
to behave with propriety → se comporter avec correction
proprieties npl (old-fashioned)convenances fpl
to observe the proprieties → observer les convenances


n (= correctness)Korrektheit f, → Richtigkeit f; (= decency)Anstand m; (of clothing)Gesellschaftsfähigkeit f, → Züchtigkeit f (liter); some countries still have doubts about the propriety of bikinisin manchen Ländern werden Bikinis noch als anstößig betrachtet; propriety of conductkorrektes Verhalten; breach of proprietyVerstoß mgegen die guten Sitten; the proprietiesdie Regeln pldes Anstands


[prəˈpraɪətɪ] n (seemliness) → decoro, rispetto delle convenienze sociali; (appropriateness) → convenienza
the proprieties → le convenzioni sociali


(prəˈpraiəti) noun
correctness of behaviour; decency; rightness.
References in classic literature ?
He was called before the curtain, and with great propriety appeared, leading Hagar, whose singing was considered more wonderful than all the rest of the performance put together.
It was evident that they debated on the propriety of some measure, that nearly concerned the welfare of the travelers.
To a man living so much in the past, and so little in the present, as the secluded and antiquarian old bachelor, a century and a half seemed not so vast a period as to obviate the propriety of substituting right for wrong.
It will be seen, likewise, that this Custom-House sketch has a certain propriety, of a kind always recognised in literature, as explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into my possession, and as offering proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained.
It was a pleasure at these moments to feel myself tranquil and justified; doubtless, perhaps, also to reflect that by my discretion, my quiet good sense and general high propriety, I was giving pleasure-- if he ever thought of it
What under the heavens he did it for, I cannot tell, but his next movement was to crush himself --boots in hand, and hat on --under the bed; when, from sundry violent gaspings and strainings, I inferred he was hard at work booting himself; though by no law of propriety that I ever heard of, is any man required to be private when putting on his boots.
As to the propriety of this extraordinary outlay, the public mind was divided,--some affirming that it was well enough, all things considered, for once in one's life, and others stoutly affirming that the money had better have been sent to the missionaries; but all parties agreed that there had been no such parasol seen in those parts as had been sent on from New York, and that she had one silk dress that might fairly be trusted to stand alone, whatever might be said of its mistress.
The manner," says he, "in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God.
All seemed pleasure, joy, and roguish gaiety, only one of the numerous guests had a gloomy exterior; but exactly the black armor in which he walked about excited general attention, and his tall figure, as well as the noble propriety of his movements, attracted especially the regards of the ladies.
On a certain warm day in summer Rebecca's thirst exceeded the bounds of propriety.
Hamil- ton suggested the propriety of making a search for the protections which he had understood Frederick had written for himself and the rest.
It was short, but expressed good sense, warm attachment, liberality, propriety, even delicacy of feeling.