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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.]
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. 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]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
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.




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.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


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
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


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:
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.
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
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


(= 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
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[prəˈpraɪətɪ] n (seemliness) → decoro, rispetto delle convenienze sociali; (appropriateness) → convenienza
the proprieties → le convenzioni sociali
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(prəˈpraiəti) noun
correctness of behaviour; decency; rightness.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Even her propriety could not dispute that there was impropriety in the world; but Mrs General's way of getting rid of it was to put it out of sight, and make believe that there was no such thing.
The second thing to aim at is propriety. There is a type of manly valour; but valour in a woman, or unscrupulous cleverness, is inappropriate.
Peter Petrovich Konovnitsyn, like Dokhturov, seems to have been included merely for propriety's sake in the list of the so-called heroes of 1812- the Barclays, Raevskis, Ermolovs, Platovs, and Miloradoviches.
Blanche's delight expressed itself in the form of two unblushing outrages on propriety, committed in close succession.
Blanche left Arnold to array herself in her bridal splendor--after another outrage on propriety, and more consequences of free institutions.
The powers to make treaties and to send and receive ambassadors, speak their own propriety. Both of them are comprised in the articles of Confederation, with this difference only, that the former is disembarrassed, by the plan of the convention, of an exception, under which treaties might be substantially frustrated by regulations of the States; and that a power of appointing and receiving "other public ministers and consuls," is expressly and very properly added to the former provision concerning ambassadors.
The severe accuracy of some critics has objected to the complexion of the slaves of Brian de Bois-Guilbert, as being totally out of costume and propriety. I remember the same objection being made to a set of sable functionaries, whom my friend, Mat Lewis, introduced as the guards and mischief-doing satellites of the wicked Baron, in his Castle Spectre.
AS a preface is the only place where an author can with propriety explain a purpose or apologize for shortcomings, I venture to avail myself of the privilege to make a statement for the benefit of my readers.
You may depend on my never making the general Sense of Propriety my enemy again: I am getting knowledge enough of the world to make it my accomplice next time.
Weston; and the transition from Highbury to Enscombe, the contrast between the places in some of the first blessings of social life was just enough touched on to shew how keenly it was felt, and how much more might have been said but for the restraints of propriety.The charm of her own name was not wanting.
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties.
Not to confer in each case a degree of power commensurate to the end, would be to violate the most obvious rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled from managing them with vigor and success.