c. 1300, propre, "adapted to some purpose, fit, apt; commendable, excellent" (sometimes ironic), from Old French propre "own, particular; exact, neat, fitting, appropriate" (11c.) and directly from Latin proprius "one's own, particular to itself," from pro privo "for the individual, in particular," from ablative of privus "one's own, individual" (see private (adj.)) + pro "for" (see pro-). Related: Properly; properness. As an adverb, "very exceedingly," from mid-15c., but since 19c. the use is considered vulgar.
From early 14c. as "belonging or pertaining to oneself; individual; intrinsic;" also as "pertaining to a person or thing in particular, special, specific; distinctive, characteristic;" also "what is by the rules, correct, appropriate, acceptable." From early 15c. as "separate, distinct; itself." Meaning "socially appropriate, decent, respectable" is recorded by 1704.
Proper name "name belonging to or relating to the person or thing in question, name given to an individual of a class for distinction from others of the same class" is from c. 1300, a sense also preserved in astronomical proper motion "change in the apparent places of a celestial object in the sky relative to other stars or planets" (c. 1300). Proper noun is from mid-15c.
updated on December 11, 2020