American Dictionary of the English Language

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PROP'ER, adjective [Latin proprius, supposed to be allied to prope, near.]

1. Peculiar; naturally or essentially belonging to a person or thing; not common. That is not proper which is common to many. Every animal has his proper instincts and inclinations, appetites and habits. Every muscle and vessel of the body has its proper office. Every art has it proper rules. Creation is the proper work of an Almighty Being.

2. Particularly suited to. Every animal lives in his proper element.

3. One's own. It may be joined with any possessive pronoun; as our proper son.

Our proper conceptions.

Now learn the difference at your proper cost.

[Note. Own is often used in such phrases; 'at your own proper cost.' This is really tautological, but sanctioned by usage, and expressive of emphasis.]

4. Noting an individual; pertaining to one of a species, but not common to the whole; as a proper name. Dublin is the proper name of a city.

5. Fit; suitable; adapted; accommodated. A thin dress is not proper for clothing in a cold climate. Stimulants are proper remedies for debility. Gravity of manners is very proper for persons of advanced age.

In Athens, all was pleasure, mirth and play

All proper to the spring and sprightly May.

6. Correct; just; as a proper word; a proper expression.

7. Not figurative.

8. Well formed; handsome.

Moses was a proper child. Hebrews 11:23.

9. Tall; lusty; handsome with bulk. [Low and not used.]

10. In vulgar language, very; as proper good; proper sweet. [This is very improper, as well as vulgar.]

Proper receptacle, in botany, that which supports only a single flower or fructification; proper perianth or involucre, that which incloses only a single flower; proper flower or corol, one of the single florets or corollets in an aggregate or compound flower; proper nectary, separate form the petals and other parts of the flower.