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properly in love
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New River, AZ, USA
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I often catch Piers Morgan on CNN, and noticed he likes to ask the question “Have you ever been properly in love?”

The meaning was apparent, though I don’t recall hearing “properly in love” much in the past. Of course, “properly” can mean different things to different people, but I think the basic meaning still comes through.

Then, the other night, Morgan used the phrase again, but in reference to a parent: “Did you properly love your father?” Cognitive dissonance … now I wasn’t sure I really understood the meaning of “properly in love.” At least the way Morgan is using it.

N-grams shows this spike in usage from about 1870-1940 (American English), which might explain why I hadn’t heard that phrase before.

My question (especially to UK forum members): Is this still a common phrase in UK English? When I switch to an N-gram search in UK English, the usage trend is very different, but doesn’t suggest current widespread use. Maybe Morgan is trying to resurrect a phrase he just happens to like? Or is it still common in the UK?

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I’m not a Brit, but in my experience the Br. Eng. “properly” equates to Am. Eng. “really.” My grandsons, living in London, use properly frequently and in surprising ways.

New River, AZ, USA
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Thanks for that insight Glenn. Now that meaning would make sense in both usages cited. After reading your response I checked an online dictionary:


Found (near the bottom of the page) the meaning legitimately, and that’s pretty close to the British meaning really. I guess what threw me was Morgan using it to describe the degree to which one is in love. Larry King would have said truly or really. I mean, you’d think people in the broadcasting business would try to avoid such nuanced meanings. I’m pretty sure on at least one occasion an interviewee responded with “What do you mean by properly?” Don’t recall Morgan’s answer, but it couldn’t have been that clear or I wouldn’t have had this question.


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