mid-15c., "not true," from Old French impropre (14c.) and directly from Latin improprius "not proper," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + proprius (see proper). Meaning "not suited, unfit" is from 1560s; that of "not in accordance with good manners, modesty, or decency" is from 1739. Related: Improperly (late 14c.).