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[im-prop-er] /ɪmˈprɒp ər/
not proper; not strictly belonging, applicable, correct, etc.; erroneous:
He drew improper conclusions from the scant evidence.
not in accordance with propriety of behavior, manners, etc.:
improper conduct at a funeral.
unsuitable or inappropriate, as for the purpose or occasion:
improper attire for a formal dance.
abnormal or irregular:
improper functioning of the speech mechanism.
Origin of improper
1535-45; < Latin improprius. See im-2, proper
Related forms
improperly, adverb
improperness, noun
1–3. inapplicable, unsuited, unfit. 2. indecorous. Improper, indecent, unbecoming, unseemly are applied to that which is unfitting or not in accordance with propriety. Improper has a wide range, being applied to whatever is not suitable or fitting, and often specifically to what does not conform to the standards of conventional morality: improper diet; improper behavior in church; improper language. Indecent, a strong word, is applied to what is offensively contrary to standards of propriety and especially of modesty: indecent behavior, literature. Unbecoming is applied to what is especially unfitting in the person concerned: conduct unbecoming a minister. Unseemly is applied to whatever is unfitting or improper under the circumstances: unseemly mirth.
1, 3. fitting, suitable. 2. proper. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for improper
  • Lawyers have a right and sometimes an obligation to object when they believe something is improper.
  • It's not an easy task and many a hunter has spoiled the meat by a badly placed shot or improper gutting.
  • He was of opinion that it was improper, and that they were naturally unequal to it.
  • There are many other forms of invasion of privacy, such as blackmail and the improper use of your personal data.
  • Overuse, misuse, improper dosing and the use of substandard or diluted medicines all contribute to the rise of resistance.
  • There have been incidents where the tubes have become clogged with ice or debris, caused by weather or by improper maintenance.
  • Other governments may use them-and traders may think twice about their ability to get away with improper dealing.
  • improper weight and diet strongly correlate with chronic diseases, which account for three-fourths of all health-care spending.
  • Perhaps this is the improper venue to discuss such philosophical work.
  • Other factors include increased body weight and improper footwear.
British Dictionary definitions for improper


lacking propriety; not seemly or fitting
unsuitable for a certain use or occasion; inappropriate: an improper use for a tool
irregular or abnormal
Derived Forms
improperly, adverb
improperness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for improper

mid-15c., "not true," from French impropre (14c.), from Latin improprius, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + proprius (see proper). Meaning "not suited, unfit" is from 1560s; that of "not in accordance with good manners, modesty, decency" is from 1739. Related: Improperly (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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