Definition of improper in US English:



  • 1Not in accordance with accepted rules or standards, especially of morality or honesty.

    ‘he was accused of improper behavior in his business dealings’
    • ‘I have broken no law, and I am confident that the inquiry will find no improper behaviour on my part.’
    • ‘The fall in stock market values is attributed mainly to concerns about improper accounting standards.’
    • ‘In several other cases I have heard of, improper procedure was used, with the losers as the immigrants into the UK.’
    • ‘The inquiry also investigated whether any of the Prince's staff have received improper payments or other benefits.’
    • ‘During the festive season, injuries result from improper use of fireworks.’
    • ‘If there's a potential conflict of interest or improper influence, the public has a right to know.’
    • ‘The president had harsh words for those who talked about the programme to the media, saying their actions were illegal and improper.’
    • ‘Lukacs writes in an informal style, but his academic standards are high, and he is very severe on lack of evidence or improper use of sources.’
    • ‘In most cases it is probably down to faulty contraceptives (or more often improper use of the same).’
    • ‘Many acts may look improper and unethical, yet there may have been a good reason for them.’
    • ‘The letter contained serious allegations of criminal and other improper behaviour.’
    • ‘I apologize for any suggestion that you might have done something improper.’
    • ‘The main reason for water scarcity is the improper management of water.’
    • ‘If you did nothing improper you should not be concerned about answering these questions.’
    • ‘Sources say he has vehemently denied any suggestion of improper conduct.’
    • ‘Another claim involved an alleged attempt at improper influence in the form of a valuable stamp collection.’
    • ‘However, he denies ever receiving any improper payment from them.’
    • ‘The major cause of such outbreaks is due to improper disposal of waste.’
    • ‘Both incorrectly found nothing improper in the Police search of my house.’
    • ‘The decision was strongly criticized by customers complaining that it was an improper move during the crisis.’
    inappropriate, unacceptable, unsuitable, unprofessional, irregular, illegitimate, against the rules
    indecent, risqué, off colour, indelicate, suggestive, naughty, ribald, earthy, rabelaisian, smutty, dirty, filthy, vulgar, crude, rude, obscene, lewd, pornographic
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    1. 1.1 Lacking in modesty or decency.
      ‘it was thought improper for elderly women to wear bright colors’
      • ‘It seemed that the whole village had been informed of her improper behaviour.’
      • ‘The judge said there was no indication from the reports of any sexually improper behaviour before.’
      • ‘Stop that improper use of language right now and follow me into my office please!’
      • ‘He touched himself in public without thought as to how improper it may be to others.’
      • ‘The doctor, a married father of three, accepts meeting Miss A outside work but denied any improper conduct took place.’
      • ‘Perhaps we should go elsewhere, lest our being here together be seen as improper.’
      • ‘Never was she allowed to do anything that was deemed improper for a young lady.’
      • ‘He secluded her from all things he considered impure, and deprived her from all physical activity he deemed improper.’
      • ‘He said there had not been any improper or indecent behaviour.’
      • ‘She had spoken without being asked a question, which was improper and impolite.’
      • ‘Our children unfortunately are not generally made aware that behaving rudely is improper.’
      unseemly, indecorous, unbecoming, unfitting, out of keeping, unladylike, ungentlemanly, indiscreet, indelicate, impolite, undignified
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    2. 1.2 Incorrect; inaccurate.
      ‘the flickering lights were due to an improper connection’


Late Middle English: from French impropre or Latin improprius, from in- ‘not’ + proprius ‘one's own, proper’.