English edit

Etymology edit

From late Middle English proprietee, propretee, propriete (ownership), borrowed from Anglo-Norman propreté, Middle French proprieté, from Latin proprietās. By surface analysis, proper +‎ -iety. Doublet of property.

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɹəˈpɹaɪəti/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪɪti

Noun edit

propriety (countable and uncountable, plural proprieties)

  1. (obsolete) The particular character or essence of someone or something; individuality. [15th–20th c.]
  2. (obsolete) A characteristic; an attribute. [15th–20th c.]
  3. (now rare) A piece of land owned by someone; someone's property. [from 16th c.]
  4. (obsolete) More generally, something owned by someone; a possession. [16th–19th c.]
    • 1723, Charles Walker, Memoirs of the Life of Sally Salisbury:
      I was fearful of giving You a very sensible Disgust, in making You seem the Propriety of one Man, when You know Yourself ordained for the Comfort and Refreshment of Multitudes.
  5. The fact of possessing something; ownership. [from 16th c.]
    • 1671, Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes, page 49:
      This ſweet word, I will be your God, implies, 1. Propriety, that all that is in God ſhall be ours; his love ours, his Spirit ours, his mercy ours.
  6. (now rare) Correct language or pronunciation. [from 17th c.]
    • 1791, John Walker, “Construe”, in A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary [] [1], London: Sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinſon, Paternoſter Row; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, →OCLC, page 162:
      Thoſe who ought to be the guardians of propriety are often the perverters of it. Hence Accidence for Accidents, Prepoſtor for Prepoſitor and Conſtur for Conſtrue []
  7. Suitability, fitness; the quality of being appropriate. [from 18th c.]
  8. (often in the plural) Correctness in behaviour and morals; good manners, seemliness. [from 19th c.]
    • 1811, [Jane Austen], “Chapter 12”, in Sense and Sensibility [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] C[harles] Roworth, [], and published by T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC:
      Elinor then ventured to doubt the propriety of her receiving such a present from a man so little, or at least so lately known to her.
    • 1859 December 13, Charles Dickens, “The Ghost in Master B’s Room”, in Charles Dickens, editor, The Haunted House. The Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round [], volume II, London: [] C. Whiting, [], →OCLC, page 29, column 2:
      Miss Griffin was a model of propriety, and I am at a loss to imagine what the feelings of the virtuous woman would have been, if she had known, when she paraded us down the Hampstead Road two and two, that she was walking with a stately step at the head of Polygamy and Mahomedanism.
    • 1922, Eugene Irving McCormac, “Administration and Patronage”, in James K. Polk: A Political Biography[2], Berkeley, Cali.: University of California Press, →OCLC, page 331:
      With a deep sense of personal integrity and a desire to avoid everything which might impair his absolute independence, Polk declined to accept presents of more than nominal value. Shortly after his inauguration Thomas Lloyd sent him a valuable saddlehorse, but he promptly gave orders that it should be returned to the donor. Another admirer who sent a consignment of wine and other delicacies for the President's table was instructed to send a bill or to take the articles away. It soon became known that he would accept nothing of greater value than a book or a cane. The same rule applied to presents for Mrs. Polk.²⁷ The same scrupulous regard for propriety is shown in his refusal to invest in government securities a certain sum of money belonging to his nephew and ward, Marshall T. Polk.²⁸ His public policies were denounced in unmeasured terms, and his political honesty was frequently impugned, but even his enemies credited him with personal integrity and purity of character. His own personal affairs were characterized by simplicity and frugality. This fact has already been noted in the care with which he guarded against exorbitant charges at the time of his inauguration.²⁹
    • 2012 May 27, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “New Kid On The Block” (season 4, episode 8; originally aired 11/12/1992)”, in The Onion AV Club[3]:
      The neighbor is eventually able to sell her home despite Homer’s pants-less affronts to propriety and decency and Bart falls deeply and instantly for one of its new inhabitants, a tough but charming and funny tomboy girl named Laura (voiced by Sara Gilbert) with just the right combination of toughness and sweetness, granite and honey.

Related terms edit

Translations edit

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References edit