Brace yourselves, synonym seekers, because today's word pair takes us into iffy territory. The adjectives doubtful and dubious both deal with a lack of certainty. Doubtful is commonly used to describe things that are unlikely or improbable, e.g. It is doubtful that the event will take place without an audience. Dubious emphasizes suspicion, especially with regard to the quality or propriety of something. A dubious claim is one that should not be taken at face value. An action or argument that is described as morally dubious is perhaps not as high-minded or noble as it seems.
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.