Apropos is a tool to search the headers of the man pages for a string.

What does the name apropos mean?


6 Answers 6



/ˌæprəˈpoʊ/ Show Spelled[ap-ruh-poh] Show IPA –adverb

1. fitting; at the right time; to the purpose; opportunely.

2. Obsolete. By the way. –adjective

3. opportune; pertinent: apropos remarks. —Idiom

4. apropos of, with reference to; in respect or regard to: apropos of the preceding statement.

Definition #4 is where the unix command stems from. The results returned are in reference to the input argument.


I always thought it is from à propos meaning "in connection, concerning, with regard, in reference".

Edit: Apparently there is also word apropos and à propos meaning the same which are derived from French à propos.

  • 2
    English is a thief of words, but it has good taste :)
    – zetetic
    Feb 27, 2011 at 23:16

On my system, dictapropos tells me:

2 definitions found

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

  Apropos \Ap"ro*pos`\ ([a^]p"r[-o]*p[=o]`), a. & adv. [F. [`a]
     propos; [`a] (L. ad) + propos purpose, L. proposium plan,
     purpose, fr. proponere to propose. See {Propound}.]
     1. Opportunely or opportune; seasonably or seasonable.
        [1913 Webster]

              A tale extremely apropos.             --Pope.
        [1913 Webster]

     2. By the way; to the purpose; suitably to the place or
        subject; -- a word used to introduce an incidental
        observation, suited to the occasion, though not strictly
        belonging to the narration.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:

      adv 1: at an opportune time; "your letter arrived apropos" [syn:
             {seasonably}, {timely}, {well-timed}, {apropos}]
      2: introducing a different topic; in point of fact;
         "incidentally, I won't go to the party" [syn: {by the way},
         {by the bye}, {incidentally}, {apropos}]
      adj 1: of an appropriate or pertinent nature [ant: {malapropos}]

Also in French version of most software, the "About" item is translated by "À propos" which is a fairly accurate translation.


In English apropos is a word that means appropriate or at an opportune time.

  • 2
    Good job, Watson.
    – Tobu
    Feb 28, 2011 at 1:41

In computing, apropos is a command to search the manual pages files in Unix and Unix-like operating systems.

  • 5
    I think that is obvious here, considering he linked to the wikipedia article on it. Your answer is not valid to the question. Feb 28, 2011 at 1:20

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