General English

  • adjective
    (written as proper)
    right and correct; in the way that things are normally done


  • exclamation a general cry of appreciation, approval, etc., in use among adolescents on the West Coast in the 1990s. The term was also heard among middle-class youth in London as reported by the Evening Standard magazine, July 1994.

Origin & History of “proper!”

Proper originally meant ‘belonging to itself, particular to itself’ (a sense now defunct in English except in certain fossilized contexts, such as the astronomical term proper motion). It comes via Old French propre from Latin prōprius ‘one’s own’, which may have been a lexicalization of the phrase prō prīvō, literally ‘for the individual’ (prīvus is the source of English private). The word developed widely in meaning in Latin, but its main modern English senses, ‘correct’ and ‘morally right’, are of later evolution. Appropriate (15th c.) goes back to a late Latin derivative.