Green’s Dictionary of Slang

proper adj.

[SE 14C–17C]

1. a general intensifier, e.g. a proper idiot.

[UK]Chaucer Reeve’s Tale (1979) line 118: In cradle it lay and was a propre page.
[UK]Chaucer Cook’s Tale (1979) line 511: A prentis whilom dwelled in oure citee [...] Broun as a berye, a propre short felawe.
[UK]Ford Lady’s Trial V i: A proper joining!
[UK]Wycherley Country-Wife IV ii: For he’s a proper, goodly strong man.
[UK]W. Scott St Ronan’s Well (1833) 331: A proper fellow, sir—one of those fine gentlemen whom we pay for polishing the pavement Bond Street.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I xi: He was a most an almighty villain, and cheated a proper raft of folks.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick’s Wise Saws II 178: Warnt that a proper lark?
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK] ‘’Arry at a Political Pic-Nic’ Punch 11 Oct. 180/1: We got back jest in time for the fireworks, a proper flare-up and no kid.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Nov. 31/2: I looked a proper fool, I can tell you, with dust all over me new black suit, standin’ there waitin’ for the bloomin’ tram to get off me hat.
[UK]‘Bartimeus’ ‘A Galley’s Day’ Naval Occasions 23: Casey gave a sigh of contentment and handed back an empty glass through the pantry door. ‘Well, sir,’ he said, ‘I reckon that was a proper caper!’.
T.S. Eliot Waste Land 19: The chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been the same. / You are a proper fool, I said.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 164: Sauce she called it, proper sauce.
[UK] in T. Harrisson Mass-Observation War Factory: Report 8: I didn’t like that woman at the piano. She looked stuck up and superior. A proper snob she looked.
[UK]M. Pugh Chancer 91: He was as two-faced as a cod, a proper chancer.
[UK]R. Rendell Best Man To Die (1981) 74: She was a madam, all right, a proper little madam.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 35: Made me look a proper idiot.
[UK]Viz June/July 41: The poor bloke must have felt a proper fool.
[UK]N. Palmer ‘Vegan Reich’ in Home Suspect Device 11: Dog and his mates were making a proper nuisance of themselves.

2. correct, first-rate, satisfactory, often used ironically.

[US]R.M. Bird Nick of the Woods I 68: A proper fellow as ever you see!
[US]L.H. Medina Nick of the Woods I i: As proper a fellow as ever you saw.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 261: A ‘proper man’ generally means a perfect man, as far as can be known.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Turf’ Punch 29 Nov. 297/1: I tell yer, old man, it was proper (exceptin’ for my mucker, of course).
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 1 Feb. 7/4: I know her; she’s a proper sort when she has any coin.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 July 9/1: Why any person of the proper sex – unless one born stone blind, deaf, tongue-tied, bald, and with pronounced spinal curvature – should desire to break off an engagement with Miss Labertouche it is difficult to say.
[Aus]E. Fisher ‘Sick Cab Rider‘ in Bulletin Reciter n.p.: I don’t think my pyjamas are at the proper thing .
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 220: Shaving off your mustache was a proper move.
[UK]Dagger (London) Dec. I 16/1: Oh ’e was a proper cove was Ginger!
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 256: Along the street comes the proper gent.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 20: Proper game it was. Each knew what the other was after.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 188: If that’s the way you want it, it’s proper by me.
[US]LL Cool J ‘Kanday’ [lyrics] I’m in love with the pizznoot, it’s proper as hell.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 22: Proper: Satisfactory; good.
Twista ‘Whip Game’ [lyrics] You know my whip game proper.
Elzhi ‘Detroit State of Mind’ [lyrics] For proper scrill or the guap, there’s bills on top of bills.

In compounds

proper crowd (n.) (also proper bunch, ...mob)

(Aus.) a circle of like-minded intimates; one’s best friends.

[Aus]Referee (Sydney) 17 June 3/2: I fancy that the first time the latter is backed by the proper crowd he will win.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 July 1/3: A bowling club is to be formed here — a kind of amusement that should be taken up largely. If run by the proper crowd (not the exclusives) it should catch on.
Internat. Socialist (Sydney) 18 May 1/1: There's no doubt he was addressing the proper crowd, for in the ‘Millions Club’ are men who own a considerable portion of the country.
Northam Courier (WA) 24 Sept. 2/2: He’s may be ran for many months, and never had a hope, / Until the proper mob got hold of him, and introduced the dope.
Southern Record (NSW) 14 Oct. 2/7: Every man is moral if he can only find the right crowd. The best proof of man’s essential morality is the fact that he is always hunting for his proper crowd.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 237/2: proper bunch (proper mob) – your own special friends.