verb (used with object), propped, prop·ping.
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Origin of prop1
OTHER WORDS FROM propun·propped, adjective
Words nearby prop
Definition for prop (2 of 5)
Origin of prop2
OTHER WORDS FROM proppropless, adjective
Definition for prop (3 of 5)
Origin of prop3
Definition for prop (4 of 5)
Definition for prop (5 of 5)
What does prop mean?
In theater and film, a prop is any item on the set of a production other than the costumes and scenery. It especially refers to an object handled or used by actors during their performance.
This can be just about anything: a sword, a supercomputer, and a coffee mug are all examples of things that can be used as props in a production. Sometimes, these are real objects (like the coffee mug), but sometimes they are specially made for the production (like the supercomputer).
The word can also be used more generally to refer to an item used in a similar way, such as during a presentation or photoshoot.
Example: At my improv class, we have a box of items we can use as props during each scene.
Unrelatedly, prop is also a common verb meaning to support something or hold it up, especially by using something else. This sense of the verb is most commonly used in the verb phrase prop up, as in One of the legs is broken so we had to prop up the table with the trash can. It can also be used figuratively, as in Holiday sales are the only thing propping up the company.
Prop can also mean rest or lean something against something else that serves as a support, as in I don’t have a stand for my guitar so I just prop it against the wall.
Something that serves as a support for something in this way can be called a prop, as in We’ll need to use a prop to keep it stable.
Example: Prop the door open with a chair so we don’t get locked out.
Where does prop come from?
The first records of the word prop in the sense of a support come from the 1400s. It comes from the Middle English word proppe, which is related to the Middle Dutch proppe, meaning “bottle stopper.”
In the context of theater and film, the word prop actually comes from a shortening of the word property, which can be used to mean the same thing (though this is now rare due to how common the use of prop is).
The unrelated term props means “recognition or respect” and comes from a shortening of propers (as in proper recognition or respect).
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How is prop used in real life?
The use of props in the theater and film is extremely common—even the most basic stage play usually has at least a few props. Some famous movie props become collector’s items. The unrelated verb prop is very common and can be used in all kinds of contexts involving supporting things or holding them up, both literally and figuratively.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 15, 2017
Tell me something good that happened to you today.
Found my address book that was missing for months! Used it as a prop for an IG shoot and it had disappeared ever since.
— Resh Susan (@thebooksatchel) December 30, 2017
Couldn’t find my box of business cards to save my life this morning. Turns out I used it to prop up my “but first coffee” sign in my office. #priorites
— A L L I (@AlliKey1) September 20, 2019
Try using prop!
Is prop used correctly in the following sentence?
I was so exhausted that I had to prop myself against the wall just to stand up.
Example sentences from the Web for prop
With an RDP, the propeller is inside a duct, and the duct itself contains the motor that powers the prop blades.Electric propulsion makes this French submarine concept extra sneaky|Christina Mackenzie|November 30, 2020|Popular Science
They broke conversational conventions, they had new and stricter rules, they incorporated movement or props, there was both choreography and craft in their construction.Better conversations: The 7 essential elements of meaningful communication|matthewheimer|November 24, 2020|Fortune
“Mattresses were brought out for the stage, bedsheets were used for the curtains, and with the aluminum foil in cigarette packets my parents used to make crowns for us” as props, he told India’s Telegraph newspaper.Soumitra Chatterjee, celebrated Indian actor and ‘one-man stock company’ for Satyajit Ray, dies at 85|Harrison Smith|November 23, 2020|Washington Post
The 2012 agreement between the Obama and Romney campaigns included rules against using props or visual aids and barred follow-up questions from the audience during the town hall.The first presidential debate was chaotic. Here’s why improving the next one will be tough.|Kim Bellware|October 1, 2020|Washington Post
The propeller sits in back for the same reason—a prop in the front would be unfriendly to smooth flow.This weird-looking plane could someday be a fast, clean option for air travel|Rob Verger|September 28, 2020|Popular Science
Without the proper equipment to repair and operate the Mohajer-4 it may be more of a photo prop than a piece of weaponry.
But this year, New Yorkers have a shot at making real changes through a ballot initiative sonorously known as Prop 1.Hate Hyper-Partisanship? Support Redistricting Reform Now|John Avlon|November 3, 2014|DAILY BEAST
This is good—no one needs rape on TV used as a prop, or as background noise, or for shock value.The Walking Dead’s ‘Slabtown’: The Real Source of Terror Isn’t Walkers, It’s Rape|Melissa Leon|November 3, 2014|DAILY BEAST
They see themselves being set up as a sacrifice for a U.S. policy meant to prop up Iraq.
After we tour the river we fly on a single-prop plane back to Fort Mac.
He realized for the first time what a prop and resource the deep maturity and scornful strength of his mother had been.Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton
Then the thought of what had awakened her made her prop herself up on an elbow and gaze around.The Adventure Girls at K Bar O|Clair Blank
Just now, Grandfather's keyster is the Rock of Gibraltar, the financial prop that is sustaining the whole structure.David Lannarck, Midget|George S. Harney
If, by accident, the underground roots die off, the plant relies entirely on these air and prop roots for support and food.
The strong prop roots are generally of the same diameter throughout, though sometimes they thicken at the ends.
British Dictionary definitions for prop (1 of 3)
verb props, propping or propped (when tr, often foll by up)
Word Origin for prop
British Dictionary definitions for prop (2 of 3)
British Dictionary definitions for prop (3 of 3)
Idioms and Phrases with prop
see knock the bottom (props) out from.