Green’s Dictionary of Slang

proper adv.

1. extremely, very, usu. constr. with an adj., e.g. proper stupid.

[US]Horry & Weems Life of General F. Marion (1816) 124: By jing! I should like it proper well!
[US]S. Smith Major Downing (1834) 30: The folks got rich there proper fast.
[US]D. Crockett in Meine Crockett Almanacks (1955) 133: He was proper mad, I tell you.
[US]L.H. Medina Nick of the Woods II i: Come, miss; I’m proper glad you’re left behind.
Cadiz Democrat Sentinel (OH) 5 Mar. 4/1: My first sweetheart was a proper handsome gal.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 194: Proper very, exceedingly, sometimes ironically; ‘you are a proper nice fellow,’ meaning a great scamp.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]G.D. Chase ‘Lists From Maine’ in DN IV i 5: proper, adv. Very. ‘They’ll come proper handy next time.’.
[UK]F. Bason Diary I (1950) 26: I think as how I should put me on a bonfire because i am proper poorly.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Coonardoo 284: They got proper wet out there.
[UK]F. Durbridge Send for Paul Temple (1992) 44: Can’t stand the sight of blood. Makes me proper queer-like.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 28: What the hell had he got to be so browned off about? He ought to be feeling proper chirpy.
[UK] in T. Harrisson Mass-Observation War Factory: A Report 12: I’m proper tired tonight. Think I’ll go up soon.
[US]T.C. Bambara ‘My Man Bovanne’ in Gorilla, My Love (1972) 9: Tomorrow’s dinner [...] is goin to be a grand thing proper.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 180: Ah folded up like a chonga wrap seein’ him proper wound up.
[UK]BBC News ‘Report on Teenage Slang’ 11 Mar. [radio] John’s chick is proper buff [...] John’s girlfriend is really pretty.
[UK]S. Kelman Pigeon English 5: It’s proper windy at the bottom like a whirlpool.
[UK]G. Krauze What They Was 191: All my boys who’ve met my father proper like him.

2. in the proper manner, to a great extent.

[UK] ‘’Arry on His ’Oliday’ in Punch 13 Oct. 160/2: Bin dooing the Swell pretty proper, I beg to assure yer, old man.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 31 May37: [caption] McMouther, of the Provincial Theatres Royal, is letting them have it proper.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Rats’ in Roderick (1972) 57: They’re goin’ at it proper, too.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 103: Thet boy Ginger never so much as grinned. ’E’d got ’Ankin proper, an’ that were all ’e keered abart.
[US]Van Loan ‘On Account of a Lady’ in Taking the Count 125: T-bone comes out from behin’ and puts de boots to him proper.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 75: Mr Clinton an’ a couple of the sentries were the only people in the bay, an’ ’e got it proper, ’e did.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 66: Not much pay, but there’ll be a bit of a raise regular if ye take on proper as ye should.
[US]T. Thursday ‘There’s Hicks In All Trades’ in All Sports Feb. [Internet] It is a crime the way a nice little boy [...] is going to get his face pasted proper by a real boxer.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 50: He’s been giving O’Hara the works proper.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 135: Put us in the cart good and proper.
[US]M. Spillane Return of the Hood 19: Now everything was screwed up proper. Real snafu.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 63: We still had a misunderstanding on account of I fucked up proper one time back, needed my brains examined.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 27: Make sure we get looked after proper, Wheeze.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 19 May 4: They can’t find ’nuff yute wot speak proper.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 145: Kids, stamping on my head [...] proper trying to kill me, an old man.

In phrases

talk proper (v.)

to talk Standard English.

B.W. Green Word-book of VA Folk Speech 437: Talk proper, v . When a negro tries to talk grammatically, and pronounce differently from his usual way of talking.
E.W. Parsons Folk-lore of the Sea Islands, S.C. 148: [heading] THE GIRL WHO LEARNED TO TALK PROPER.
[US]Atlantic CLVIII 435/2: Tom was finishing high school, and went well-dressed, and he could talk proper like nobody’s business.
S.J. Irvine Sophia 229: You should learn ’ow to talk proper, an’ sy wot you do mean, an’ not wot you down’t mean.
[UK]F. Norman in Encounter n.d. in Norman’s London (1969) 60: As a matter of fact I myself have only just started to talk ‘proper’ and the only reason for this is because the people I talk to most these days wouldn’t understand what I was talking about.
C. Berry Portrait of Cornwall 152: There were influences at work to make me ‘talk proper’. The headmaster of my elementary school, a well-educated ‘foreigner’, was one.
L.W. Levine Black Culture and Black Consciousness 153: One of Mitchell-Kernan’s informants said contemptuously of a friend who was ‘trying to talk proper’: ‘She think she gon get time off for good behavior’.
A. Walker Color Purple 183: Sugar, she say one day when Shug home, don’t you think it be nice if Celie could talk proper? Shug say, She can talk in sign language for all I care.
D. Schaafsma Eating on the Street 123: You know, at certain times you talk proper, is what black folks call it.
J. Baugh Out of the Mouths of Slaves 5: How can you trust motherfuckers that do shit like that, and then they say we stupid cause we don’t talk proper. Talkin proper don’t feel natural to me.
D.L. Shores Tangier Island 244: An Islander hears another Islander trying to ‘talk proper’ when strangers ask questions.