AskDefine | Define proprietary

Dictionary Definition

proprietary adj : protected by trademark or patent or copyright; made or produced or distributed by one having exclusive rights; "`Tylenol' is a proprietary drug of which `acetaminophen' is the generic form" [ant: nonproprietary] n : an unincorporated business owned by a single person who is responsible for its liabilities and entitled to its profits [syn: proprietorship]

User Contributed Dictionary



From French propriétaire < Latin proprietarius. Compare with the Latin proprietas (property), and proprius (ownership).


  • a US /prəˈprɑɪ.ə.teɪɹ.i/


  1. Relating to property or ownership.
    • the proprietary rights
  2. Of or relating to the quality of being an owner.
    • the proprietary class
  3. Manufactured exclusively by the owner of intellectual property rights (IPR), as with a patent or trade secret.
    • The continuous profitability of the company is based on its many proprietary products.
  4. Privately owned.
    • a proprietary lake


relating to property or ownership
  • Finnish: oma, omistus-
of or relating to the quality of being an owner
  • Finnish: omistava, omistaja-
manufactured exclusively by the IPR owner
  • Finnish: alkuperäinen, alkuperäis-
privately owned
  • Finnish: yksityinen, yksityis-

Extensive Definition

The word "proprietary" indicates that a party, or proprietor, exercises private ownership, control or use over an item of property, usually to the exclusion of other parties.
A party may have interests which are similar to proprietary interests in relation to certain types of information (e.g. for a creative literary work, or for computer software), which is the subject of certain laws, including copyright, patents or trademarks. This manner of speech is often used in reference to proprietary software.
Proprietary components are components that are unique to a specific manufacturer, and do not conform to preset standards.

Historical terms

  • A proprietary colonel owed his regimental command not to promotion through the ranks, but to a venal mode of appointment by the crown. The colonelcy of a regiment formerly implied a proprietary right in it. Whether the colonel commanded it directly in the field or not, he always superintended its finance and interior economy; the emoluments of the office in the 18th century were often the only form of pay drawn by general officers. The general officers of the 17th and 18th centuries were invariably colonels of regiments, and in this case the active regimental command was exercised by the lieutenant colonels.
  • In the colonial era, a (notably British) monarch could, as a form of indirect rule, grant proprietary rights to individuals over a proprietary colony, in which the proprietors (sometimes styled Lords Proprietors) were given exclusive control, not just ownership under private law, or to a chartered company.
  • Proprietor was also the secondary title of the self-styled Leaders of the semi-independent proprietary settlement Swains Island (Jennings family, US, 1856-1926) now part of American Samoa
  • A proprietary member is someone whose membership of some institution is a right derived from a specific property, especially real estate. For example, the Swansea Harbour docks and over 20 miles of adjacent railways were owned and administered by a harbour trust of 26 members: the owner of the Briton Ferry estate (Earl Jersey), 4 representing the lord of the seigniory of Gower (the duke of Beaufort), 12 proprietary members and 9 elected annually by the corporation of Swansea.

Sources and references

proprietary in German: Proprietär
proprietary in Swedish: Proprietär

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

balm, balsam, beneficiary, cestui, cestui que trust, cestui que use, deedholder, dominion, dominium, drops, drug, electuary, elixir, ethical drug, feoffee, feudatory, generic name, herbs, householder, inhalant, laird, land tenure, landed, landholding, landlady, landlord, landownership, landowning, lincture, linctus, lord, lordship, master, materia medica, medicament, medication, medicinal, medicinal herbs, medicine, mesne, mesne lord, mistress, mixture, nonprescription drug, officinal, overlordship, owner, ownership, patent medicine, pharmacon, physic, possession, possessive, possessorship, possessory, powder, preparation, prescription drug, propertied, property, proprietary medicine, proprietary name, proprietor, proprietorship, proprietress, proprietrix, rentier, seigniory, simples, sovereignty, squire, syrup, theraputant, tisane, titleholder, vegetable remedies
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