In an english subtitle of a movie, i met a following sentence:

"if you have criticism of our management, we'll all ears, but please air those concerns through the appropriate channels".

What does the phrase "Through the appropriate channels" means? Is this expression formal?

After searching, i found the use of the phrase https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/channel : "Complaints should be made through the proper/usual channels". Is the meaning of the two phrases same?

1 Answer 1


One meaning of Channel is “a way of communicating with people.” The term radio channel came into use to describe a particular frequency of radio waves used for communication and google Ngram shows a growth of the term from the 1920s. The wider use of channel within the term communication channel seems to have come into use from about 1940 onwards. An appropriate channel in this case is a channel of communication appropriate to the matter under consideration. It is used to make formal complaint to those in the management chain charged with dealing with complaints. This would be (as you suggest) the proper channel for complaint (rather than shouting and waving wildly at staff, for example).

  • so "through appropriate channel" and "through proper channel" are the same?. When i searching for the meaning, i just see the examples with 'proper channel', not 'appropriate channel'. Is the phrase with "proper channel" used more often?
    – user383745
    Oct 18, 2020 at 9:46
  • I think it is safe to use either proper or appropriate. Cambridge dictionary gives proper = "fitting or right for a particular situation; suitable": and appropriate = "suitable or right for a particular situation or occasion"
    – Anton
    Oct 18, 2020 at 9:56
  • Okay, thank you very much :)
    – user383745
    Oct 18, 2020 at 13:43

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