Definition of propriety in US English:



  • 1The state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.

    ‘he always behaved with the utmost propriety’
    • ‘When Pamela first realises what her master is up to, she expresses herself with a vivid mixture of moral outrage and offended propriety.’
    • ‘The commission will also vet all nominations for life peers, including those made by the political parties, for the highest standards of propriety.’
    • ‘The propriety of the behaviour of the spy or decoy in so doing varies from one category to another.’
    • ‘There are different standards of propriety for an intimate dinner than for the State of the Union address.’
    • ‘The accepted view of an organisation which is the protector of conformity and propriety has disappeared.’
    • ‘It is a career that will defy all propriety, convention, and logic.’
    • ‘She breaks every possible rule of propriety, in her behavior both as a woman and as businessperson.’
    • ‘However, it is the issue of moral propriety that interests me most.’
    • ‘They found it intellectually stultifying and conformist, enslaved to propriety and, well, bloody boring.’
    • ‘I think the triple membrane of two computer screens and cyberspace in the middle can tend to break down people's sense of propriety and decency.’
    • ‘And the issue of moral propriety tended to have to do with the fidelity of the wife rather than the activities of the husband.’
    • ‘Is this truly the test of moral propriety you would have us aspire to?’
    • ‘There were also plenty of discussions about the moral and ethical propriety of informing on others.’
    • ‘He and my mother fought often, either when his cruelty surfaced or when his behaviour failed to meet her standards of propriety.’
    • ‘So I'm not altogether convinced is has anything to do with propriety or morals.’
    • ‘Her speech was not frivolous nor her words presumptuous but in every way she behaved with utmost propriety.’
    • ‘The movie deals with the need for moral propriety in life.’
    • ‘A solicitor acting on his own behalf has an even higher duty to behave with the utmost propriety than he would if he were representing clients in a similar transaction.’
    • ‘Moral propriety was an essential of his creed - dancing and cinema-going were anathema.’
    • ‘But the point made is that, at some stage in life, propriety must supersede convenience.’
    decorum, respectability, decency, correctness, appropriateness, good manners, courtesy, politeness, rectitude, civility, modesty, demureness
    etiquette, social conventions, social grace, social graces, social niceties, one's ps and qs, protocol, decorum, standards, civilities, ceremony, formalities, rules of conduct, accepted behaviour, conventionalities, good manners, good form, the done thing, the thing to do, punctilio, attention to detail
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    1. 1.1proprieties The details or rules of behavior conventionally considered to be correct.
      ‘she's a great one for the proprieties’
      • ‘It is a reasonable assumption that, even if there are disagreements on the role of the society, the common objective will mean that the normal civilities and in particular normal electoral proprieties will be observed.’
      • ‘Second, Athene's court, for all its pomp and ceremony, procedural proprieties, and ordered speeches does not in the end resolve the conflict: the result is an impasse following an even split between the jurors.’
      • ‘There have always been transgressive artworks; transgressions are as old - almost as old - as the rules they violate or the proprieties they offend.’
      • ‘His initial reply was: ‘To the limited extent that I was involved in this matter, I was always very sensitive to the proprieties.’’
      • ‘Worse still, his fiancée ignores ceremonial proprieties altogether by breezing past the patriarch's throne with a careless glance over her shoulder.’
      • ‘In the presence of their representation of the timelessness of the two sexes in their experienced identity, all the proprieties, conventions, ideals and virtues of the court fell into insignificance.’
      • ‘The rule of law and constitutional proprieties were discarded.’
      • ‘Again, as argued in my article, these are to be found in dialogue, the building of trust and mutual respect of very different proprieties, nurtured within culturally appropriate terms of engagement.’
      • ‘‘Getting square’ is the primeval act of revenge - on an informer or somebody who has transgressed the protocols and proprieties of criminal boundaries.’
      • ‘Even at the Commonwealth level, there were times when the Chief Justice thought he had a responsibility to throw the proprieties and conventions to the wind.’
      • ‘By poking fun at the bodies or habits of the powerful, comic cards could attack social proprieties and conventions without accountability or retribution.’
      • ‘This mismatch between the conventional dramatic proprieties and science fiction's extreme, grotesque, or visionary thematics is known as the ‘squid on the mantelpiece.’’
      • ‘The strict proprieties of time and place and my own timidity meant that I was only a day-tripper in this world, never a candidate for resident status.’
      • ‘The equation between proper dress and proper speech is made explicitly in Victorian etiquette manuals, where proprieties of language are spoken of as if they were cosmetics.’
      • ‘You are very conscious of social proprieties.’
      • ‘Was this formulation a scrupulous observance of proprieties or an elegant way of passing the buck?’
      • ‘His ‘punctilious observance of the proprieties of his medium’ gives a ‘general air of sensibility’ to his writing.’
      • ‘Only in Japan, a country which requires its workers to be devotedly institutionalised, is there a similar ritual of shared loosening of professional proprieties.’
      • ‘The rule of law was dispensed with and constitutional proprieties were cast aside.’
      • ‘She'd thought that as an apprentice she'd be able to escape from some of the more uncomfortable luxuries of her wealthy background, but even at the Temple proprieties ruled.’
      conformity, scrupulousness, meticulousness, conscientiousness, punctiliousness, exactitude, precision, strictness, nicety
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    2. 1.2 The condition of being right, appropriate, or fitting.
      ‘they questioned the propriety of certain investments made by the council’
      • ‘At the time of the attacks, few in the United States or elsewhere raised questions about the propriety of nuclear weapons.’
      • ‘The department chair questioned the propriety of my proposal, pointing out that we were not operating in a rational climate.’
      • ‘In my view this connotes something more than a legitimate disagreement between counsel as to the propriety of particular questions.’
      • ‘That is the forum in which, for example, it is appropriate to debate the propriety of the conduct of a judge.’
      • ‘He had no reason to question his doctor about the propriety of their use.’
      • ‘Again it was clear that what was being put forward related not only to the question of fitness and propriety in the context of the existing licence, but also to the new licence.’
      • ‘Questioning the legitimacy or constitutional propriety of an action by the executive is a useful device for the opposition.’
      • ‘I want to raise a question about the constitutional propriety of this.’
      • ‘Questions are being raised on the propriety of some officers being given these medals, but here lies the hitch.’
      • ‘In adopting this stance one concedes that the rightness or propriety of belief and unbelief depends upon the outcome of a certain inquiry.’
      • ‘So the question boils down to the propriety of its demands.’
      • ‘Uncertainties about the best way to provide for such patients, and indeed questions about the propriety of doing so at all within the NHS, have a long history.’
      correctness, rightness, fitness, suitability, suitableness, appropriateness, appropriacy, aptness, morality, ethicality
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘peculiarity, essential quality’): from Old French propriete, from Latin proprietas (see property).