Adjective describing anything which is considered to be the exclusive property of some owner, or related to such property.

Often used in the phrases "proprietary rights" (the rights pertaining to property ownership) and "proprietary software" (software considered as intellectual property rather than as a tool or public resource).

Occasionally proprietary does not mean that it is secret, but just non-standard, and specific to a particular vendor. Some proprietary things are still open--with full specifications published. In these cases, they are used either because the standard didn't do what the designer wanted, so proprietary may actually be better, or the proprietary item is selected to lock you into using their connectors or mounting brackets or whatever.

Sun has a habit of designing proprietary connectors and then allowing (encouraging) them to become industry standards.

Or, it could just be a proprietary extension to an existing standard.

propeller key = P = protocol

proprietary adj.

1. In marketroid-speak, superior; implies a product imbued with exclusive magic by the unmatched brilliance of the company's own hardware or software designers. 2. In the language of hackers and users, inferior; implies a product not conforming to open-systems standards, and thus one that puts the customer at the mercy of a vendor able to gouge freely on service and upgrade charges after the initial sale has locked the customer in. Often used in the phrase "proprietary crap". 3. Synonym for closed-source, e.g. software issued in binary without source and under a restrictive license.

Since the coining of the term open source, many hackers have made a conscious effort to distinguish between `proprietary' and `commercial' software. It is possible for software to be commercial (that is, intended to make a profit for the producers) without being proprietary. The reverse is also possible, for example in binary-only freeware.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Pro*pri"e*ta*ry (?), n.; pl. Proprietaries (#). [L. proprietarius: cf. F. propri'etaire. See Propriety, and cf. Proprietor.]


A proprietor or owner; one who has exclusive title to a thing; one who possesses, or holds the title to, a thing in his own right.



A body proprietors, taken collectively.

3. Eccl.

A monk who had reserved goods and effects to himself, notwithstanding his renunciation of all at the time of profession.


© Webster 1913.

Pro*pri"e*ta*ry, a. [L. proprietarius.]

Belonging, or pertaining, to a proprietor; considered as property; owned; as, proprietary medicine.

Proprietary articles, manufactured articles which some person or persons have exclusive right to make and sell.

U. S. Statutes.


© Webster 1913.

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