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verb (used with object), propped, prop·ping.
  1. to support, or prevent from falling, with or as if with a prop (often followed by up): to prop an old fence; to prop up an unpopular government.
  2. to rest (a thing) against a support: He propped his cane against the wall.
  3. to support or sustain (often followed by up).
  1. a stick, rod, pole, beam, or other rigid support.
  2. a person or thing serving as a support or stay: His father is his financial prop.

Origin of prop1

1400–50; late Middle English proppe (noun); cognate with Middle Dutch proppe bottle stopper
Related formsun·propped, adjective


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1. brace, buttress, bolster.


noun Theater.
  1. property(def 8).

Origin of prop2

First recorded in 1910–15; by shortening
Related formsprop·less, adjective


  1. a propeller.

Origin of prop3

First recorded in 1910–15; by shortening


  1. properly.
  2. property.
  3. proposition.
  4. proprietary.
  5. proprietor.


  1. a combining form representing propionic acid in compound words: propanil.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prop

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Where was the beautiful friendship that had been the comfort, the prop of her bereaved life?

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • Get on the prop and we'll see if the old puddle jumper will take off.

    The Solar Magnet

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • Never heard that folks that set fire to other people's prop'ty got there, did you?

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • Wharever does Dave come in to get insultin' action at sech a prop'sition?

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Stan hoiked her tail with a blast of prop pressure and hopped her off.

British Dictionary definitions for prop


verb props, propping or propped (when tr, often foll by up)
  1. (tr) to support with a rigid object, such as a stick
  2. (tr usually also foll by against) to place or lean
  3. (tr) to sustain or support
  4. (intr) Australian and NZ to stop suddenly or unexpectedly
  1. something that gives rigid support, such as a stick
  2. a person or thing giving support, as of a moral or spiritual nature
  3. rugby either of the forwards at either end of the front row of a scrum

Word Origin

C15: related to Middle Dutch proppe vine prop; compare Old High German pfropfo shoot, German Pfropfen stopper


  1. short for property (def. 8)


  1. an informal word for propeller
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

Word Origin and History for prop


"support," mid-15c., from Middle Dutch proppe "vine prop, support," of unknown origin. Probably related to Old High German pfropfo, German pfropfen "to prop," perhaps from Latin propago "a set, layer of a plant" (see propagation). Irish propa, Gaelic prop are from English.


"object used in a play," 1898, from props (1841), shortened form of properties (which was in theatrical use from early 15c.). Props as slang shortening for proper respects (or something similar) appeared c.1999.


"to support," mid-15c., probably from prop (n.1) or a related verb in Dutch. Related: Propped; propping.


short for propeller, 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with prop


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.