In math, the adjective proper usually denotes something as being less than or equal to another thing. For example, we have:

  • Proper subsets: A is a proper subset of B iff every element in A is an element in B, but A is not equal to B. A then has less elements than B.
  • Proper divisors: a is a proper divisor of b if a*k = b, for some natural number k != 1. That is, a divides b and a !=b, so a < b
  • Proper fractions: Think way back to elementary school... a proper fraction has a numerator which is smaller than its denominator. 5/3 is an improper fraction, which everyone (I, anyway) had to write as 1 2/3 up until the beginning of Algebra 1.

Prop"er (?), a. [OE. propre, F. propre, fr. L. proprius. Cf. Appropriate.]


Belonging to one; one's own; individual.

"His proper good" [i. e., his own possessions]. Chaucer. "My proper son."


Now learn the difference, at your proper cost,
Betwixt true valor and an empty boast.


Belonging to the natural or essential constitution; peculiar; not common; particular; as, every animal has his proper instincts and appetites.

Those high and peculiar attributes . . . which constitute our proper humanity.


Befitting one's nature, qualities, etc.; suitable in all respect; appropriate; right; fit; decent; as, water is the proper element for fish; a proper dress.

The proper study of mankind is man.

In Athens all was pleasure, mirth, and play,
All proper to the spring, and sprightly May.


Becoming in appearance; well formed; handsome.

[Archaic] "Thou art a proper man."


Moses . . . was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child.
Heb. xi. 23.


Pertaining to one of a species, but not common to the whole; not appellative; -- opposed to common; as, a proper name; Dublin is the proper name of a city.


Rightly so called; strictly considered; as, Greece proper; the garden proper.

7. Her.

Represented in its natural color; -- said of any object used as a charge.

In proper, individually; privately. [Obs.] Jer. Taylor. -- Proper flowercorolla Bot., one of the single florets, or corollets, in an aggregate or compound flower. -- Proper fraction Arith. a fraction in which the numerator is less than the denominator. -- Proper nectary Bot., a nectary separate from the petals and other parts of the flower. -- Proper noun Gram., a name belonging to an individual, by which it is distinguished from others of the same class; -- opposed to common noun; as, John, Boston, America. -- Proper perianthinvolucre Bot., that which incloses only a single flower. -- Proper receptacle Bot., a receptacle which supports only a single flower or fructification.

© Webster 1913.

Prop"er, adv.

Properly; hence, to a great degree; very; as, proper good.

[Colloq & Vulgar]

© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.