The adjectives proper and decorous are strong synonyms, but proper has many more meanings. Consider the difference between a proper (suitable) time to plant strawberries and proper (accurate) punctuation—this is just the tip of the semantic iceberg when it comes to what proper can convey. The adjective decorous is far less common and deals exclusively with what is considered socially acceptable or in good taste. Decorous is defined as “characterized by dignified propriety in conduct, manners, appearance, or character,” and it emphasizes a careful respectfulness, as in one’s behavior or language.
Time is of the essence when it comes to today’s word pair! The verb rush means “to move, act, or progress with speed, impetuosity, or violence.” One can rush to the store to stock up on essentials or one can rush to judgement—the point being that rush works on a few different levels; its meaning is not restricted to physical movement. Scurry, however, just about always describes physical movement. It is defined as “to go or move quickly or in haste” and it comes from hurry-scurry, a verb and adverb about disorderly and confused rapid movement. Scurry, too, suggests a degree of disorderliness or frenzied movement, commonly turning up in descriptions of critters that are skedaddling to safety.
The main idea behind the verb prepare is readiness, whether getting ready for something (prepare for a speech), or making something or someone ready (the nurse prepared the patient for surgery). The verb gird is a suitable synonym in only a few situations because it means, specifically, to prepare oneself for action, as in a defendant who girds himself for an upcoming trial. Gird originally meant “to encircle or bind with a belt or band,” as in the expression gird (up) one’s, which originally alluded to tucking up the traditional long robe into a girdle (that is, a belt) so it would not hamper physical activity. Today girding up one’s loins carries the same meaning as the shorter gird, that is to say, preparing oneself for action.