Impropriety is the condition of being improper, generally in the sense of being immoral or otherwise acting inappropriately to a situation. In some situations, people are compelled to avoid the appearance of impropriety, even where no actual improper behavior has occurred.


  • Even though no one else discovers the nonconformity or enforces the rules against it, the individual who has committed the impropriety may himself act as the enforcer. He may brand himself as deviant because of what he has done and punish himself in one way or another for his behavior.
    • Howard S. Becker, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1963), p. 31.
  • Does it really matter what these affectionate people do—so long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses!
    • Attributed to Mrs. Patrick Campbell, rebuke to a young actress reporting that an old actor in the company was too fond of the young and handsome leading-man. Reported in Alan Dent, Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1961), p. 78. Various versions of the first clause occur in different sources. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 3d ed. (1970), p. 128, has "I don't mind where people make love…" and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th ed. (1982), p. 706, no. 16, "My dear, I don't care what they do…"
  • I see no impropriety in looking at the most beautiful of Nature's works, the naked figure. If there is impropriety, then just where does such impropriety begin?
  • I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.
  • A spirit of faction, which is apt to mingle its poison in the deliberations of all bodies of men, will often hurry the persons of whom they are composed into improprieties and excesses, for which they would blush in a private capacity.
  • Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
    Tam cari capitis?
    • What impropriety or limit can there be in our grief for a man so beloved?
    • Horace, Carmina. I. 24. 1.