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Apropos

The loanword apropos comes from the French phrase à propos de, meaning with respect to. In English, apropos is conventionally used as a preposition meaning with regard to, and it’s also an adjective for pertinent or to the point.

Apropos is often misused in place of appropriate. This sense of apropos has nothing to do with the original French phrase or the word’s conventional meaning. In such cases, appropriate is a perfectly good replacement. Still, this use of apropos is common that we might simply have to accept that the word has changed.

Examples

Apropos may be used alone or followed by of or to—for example:


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So Veronique de Rugy has responded to Nate Silver apropos the matter I discussed yesterday. [Guardian]

Apropos of nothing, we would like to take a moment to remind all period action films that horses do not explode like that. [Geek-o-System]

Apropos is sometimes questionably used as a synonym for appropriate—for example:

Bedford-Stuy Projects Probably Not Most Apropos Place for Prison-Themed Playground [Village Voice]

With April being Earth Month, it is apropos to take a look at what the transportation world holds beyond the current range of hybrids. [Calgary Herald]

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Comments

  1. The Architect: It is interesting reading your reactions. Your five predecessors were, by design, based on a similar predication: a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to the rest of your species, facilitating the function of the One. While the others experienced this in a general way, your experience is far more specific. Vis-à-vis: love.

    Neo: Trinity.

    [the monitors show images of Trinity]

    The Architect: Apropos, she entered the Matrix to save your life at the cost of her own.

    Neo: No…

    The Architect: Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning… and end.

  2. Jim Penson says:

    I’m all for languages living and growing, and I understand that words can morph from one meaning to another, but it galls me when a word is simply misused often enough for it to become accepted. To me, it weakens the real meaning of the word and renders it vague and ambiguous. Why have both the words “appropriate” and “apropos” if they are going to be used to mean the same thing? One doesn’t convey any variation or syntax that the other doesn’t, if that’s to be the case. But my real gripe is that people use “apropos” to flower up their language and sound sophisticated. If you really want to sound smart, learn the real meaning and use of the word.

    • PatrickBatman says:

      ^Imagine saying this at a party, “The loanword apropos comes from the French phrase à propos de, meaning with respect to”. yeah you might sound smart if you say and use the real meaning but you will also sound pretentious and in need of a face slap.

      • minkowski says:

        All the more reason to not attend parties with morons.

        • PatrickBatman says:

          If you’re at a party chances are you’re a moron.

          • PatrickBatman says:

            Also there’s a huge misconception (mainly online) that your IQ is directly proportinal with how proficient you are with spelling and grammar. One I find this ridiculous because most “gramamr nazis” only know English which is a lingua franca so most people around the world know it.
            There’s so many other fields out there biology, physics, art, sports, fashion, law, etc. Hell, a lot of well known scientists couldn’t spell worth a shit. Have you seen a doctor write? AND even well known authors have editors/proofreaders.
            Now if you’re a polyglot and/or a world renown editor and have edited book in many different lnguages then I’d say you can claim lexicography in making you intelligent.

          • It’s not just demonstrating intelligence or education, but a matter of preserving tools that allow us to communicate more accurately, more efficiently; preserving these words preserves available range of expression.

            Allowing words to die is like stripping keys from a piano, and we be grateful to those brave enough to correct us from time to time.

          • MuleForRent, can I just tell you I think, “Allowing words to die is like stripping keys from a piano,” is one of the most beautiful lines I’ve read? Is that a quote, or is it your creation?

          • Very kind of you, Johnny. I am happy that it reached you and made you happy.

            It’s my own, I think. I’ve been struggling for a way to express the cost of lost words in some way that might find sympathy with those who disagree.

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