noun, plural de·cen·cies.

the state or quality of being decent.
conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.
  1. the recognized standards of decent or proper behavior; proprieties: The least you can expect from them is some respect for the decencies.
  2. the requirements or amenities for decent or comfortable living: to be able to afford the decencies.

Origin of decency

1560–70; < Latin decentia comeliness, decency, equivalent to decent- (stem of decēns) fitting (see decent) + -ia noun suffix

Synonyms for decency Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for decency

Contemporary Examples of decency

Historical Examples of decency

  • "Nothing but decency," he answered; and she had her reply ready for that.

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • Out of decency he turned his back upon him, hurrying his task to an end.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • The offender must not be found out; decency, if not morality, must be respected.



  • I must have had a glimmer of reason then, a trace of decency and unselfishness.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • What's a parcel of yelling Come-Outers compared to the decency of this town?

    Keziah Coffin

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for decency


noun plural -cies

conformity to the prevailing standards of propriety, morality, modesty, etc
the quality of being decent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for decency

1560s, "appropriateness," from Latin decentia "comeliness, decency," from decentem "becoming, fitting" (see decent). Meaning "modesty" (i.e. "appropriateness to standards of society") is from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper