View synonyms for improper


[ im-prop-er ]


  1. not proper; not strictly belonging, applicable, correct, etc.; erroneous:

    He drew improper conclusions from the scant evidence.

    Synonyms: unsuited, unfit, inapplicable

    Antonyms: suitable, fitting

  2. not in accordance with propriety of behavior, manners, etc.:

    improper conduct at a funeral.

    Synonyms: unsuited, indecorous, unfit, inapplicable

    Antonyms: proper

  3. unsuitable or inappropriate, as for the purpose or occasion:

    improper attire for a formal dance.

    Synonyms: unsuited, unfit, inapplicable

    Antonyms: suitable, fitting

  4. abnormal or irregular:

    improper functioning of the speech mechanism.


/ ɪmˈprɒpə /


  1. lacking propriety; not seemly or fitting
  2. unsuitable for a certain use or occasion; inappropriate

    an improper use for a tool

  3. irregular or abnormal

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Derived Forms

  • imˈproperness, noun
  • imˈproperly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • im·proper·ly adverb
  • im·proper·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of improper1

From the Latin word improprius, dating back to 1535–45. See im- 2, proper

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Nothing could be alleged as illegal or improper or unethical.

McSweeney argues the action was improper because it amounts to “special legislation” — meaning a law targeting one specific case, which is unconstitutional, instead of setting out broad policy.

Later, he was busted from sergeant to private for “improper dancing” with the daughter of a Spanish instructor, according to author Jean Edward Smith in “Eisenhower in War and Peace” — although that speaks more to judgment than ability.

Those familiar with the disciplinary system say data at the time showed that punishment for internal infractions — such as an improper log book or refusal to follow an order — had often been more severe than for misconduct against civilians.

The group claims thousands of members who assert the right to defy government orders they deem improper.

Farrell issued a ticket to an 18-year-old shipyard worker for speeding and an improper exhaust mechanism, according to the TP.

And if any police were warning bars against serving the Santas, “that would be improper behavior by a government official.”

I feel sorry because (patients) got the surgery with improper devices, so they might suffer from it.

It could be that those downstream abnormalities in cell development were due to improper signaling from the cerebellum.

Improper burial, Dove says, could mean that harmful bacteria are leeching into the waterways.

Yet the business may become a nuisance when conducted in some localities, or in an improper manner.

Are we to abandon any one means of doing good, because the improper use of it would do injury?

I often heard Europeans remark that they considered the procession of the nuptial couch extremely improper.

This improper use of a parent's home has also occurred in other districts.

What was a generation ago considered improper is now generally accepted as a subject for display.


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More About Improper

What does improper mean?

Improper describes something considered unsuitable or inappropriate for the purpose or occasion, as in A ballgown is improper dress for playing basketball.

Improper also describes something that isn’t appropriate for a specific scenario or circumstance, as in Shouting out the answers during a silent test is generally considered improper.

Improper can also describe something that is not correct, such as with an inaccurate conclusion or faulty language usage.

Finally, improper can be used to describe something as abnormal or irregular, particularly in reference to how something mechanical operates.

Example: We knew the test readouts were improper because the results were physically impossible.

Where does improper come from?

The first records of the term improper come from around 1530. It ultimately comes from the Latin improprius.

Proper and improper are often used to describe public behaviors, manners, dress, language, and more, judging them against an ideal, which is sometimes unrealistic in an effort to keep people from obtaining it. One example of this is setting as proper a hairstyle that is impossible for some people. Any deviation from this hairstyle would be considered improper.

In the past, the term proper was often associated with people of upper-class society with “good” character or that lived “respectable” lifestyles. Improper by extension was used to describe people who did not live high society lifestyles, and was often used as an insult to describe people who received a lower income. Improper is still used in this way in certain cases, such as fine dining, special event planning, and dress.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to improper?

  • improperly (adverb)
  • improperness (noun)

What are some synonyms for improper?

What are some words that share a root or word element with improper?

What are some words that often get used in discussing improper?

How is improper used in real life?

Generally, something that is improper is abnormal or irregular compared to what is expected in a given situation.



Try using improper!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for improper?

A. irregular
B. inappropriate
C. incorrect
D. acceptable




impromptuimproper fraction