Definitions: 1) with reference to; concerning. 2) very appropriate to a particular situation. 3) used to state a speaker's belief that someone's comments or acts are unrelated to any previous discussion or situation.

definition 2 and 3 seem to directly contradict eachother. am I right to assume that you can use the word apropos to describe something as highly relevant AND irrelevant?

Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words

  • 4
    Your definition #3 relates to what's probably the most common collocation for the term: apropos of nothing. I've never heard it used in that sense without those extra two words, but either you've mistranscribed the definition or that's what it's implying. Jan 20, 2016 at 12:57
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because OP has mistranscribed/misunderstood a definition which makes it clear the third meaning relates to apropos of nothing Jan 20, 2016 at 13:49
  • @FumbleFingers google "apropos" Jan 20, 2016 at 13:57
  • Obviously I just did that. It took a bit of extra Google-Fu to find the exact text you'd [mis-]cited above, but I got there in the end. Jan 20, 2016 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


Apropos is sometime erroneously used to mean "appropriate". The following extract may help:

  • 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.


  • Apropos may be used alone or followed by of or to,

for example:

  • 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]

(The Grammarist)

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