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  1. conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc., as in behavior or speech.
  2. respectable; worthy: a decent family.
  3. adequate; fair; passable: a decent wage.
  4. kind; obliging; generous: It was very decent of him to lend me his watch.
  5. suitable; appropriate: She did not have a decent coat for the cold winter.
  6. of fairly attractive appearance: a decent face.
  7. Informal. wearing enough clothing to appear in public.
  8. Slang. great; wonderful.

Origin of decent

1485–95; < Latin decent- (stem of decēns) fitting (present participle of decēre to be fitting; see -ent), akin to decus honor
Related formsde·cent·ly, adverbde·cent·ness, noun
Can be confuseddecent descent dissent

Synonyms for decent

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Antonyms for decent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for decently

Contemporary Examples of decently

Historical Examples of decently

  • And one always had a better time of it when one was decently dressed.

  • Why can't he work at these things—or why can't his secretaries prime him decently!

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • He just wanted to be decently quiet about things that aren't pretty!

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He got away as soon as he could decently do so, and went back to Bloomsbury.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • With Dr. Finlay I had had a home but only money enough to clothe me decently.

    An Orkney Maid

    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

British Dictionary definitions for decently


  1. polite or respectablea decent family
  2. proper and suitable; fittinga decent burial
  3. conforming to conventions of sexual behaviour; not indecent
  4. free of oaths, blasphemy, etcdecent language
  5. good or adequatea decent wage
  6. informal kind; generoushe was pretty decent to me
  7. informal sufficiently clothed to be seen by other peopleare you decent?
Derived Formsdecently, adverbdecentness, noun

Word Origin for decent

C16: from Latin decēns suitable, from decēre to be fitting
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 decently



1530s, "proper to one's station or rank," also "tasteful," from Middle French décent, or directly from Latin decentem (nominative decens) "becoming, seemly, fitting, proper," present participle of decere "to be fitting or suitable," from PIE *deke-, from root *dek- "to take, accept, to receive, greet, be suitable" (cf. Greek dokein "to appear, seem, think," dekhesthai "to accept;" Sanskrit daśasyati "shows honor, is gracious," dacati "makes offerings, bestows;" Latin docere "to teach," decus "grace, ornament"). Meaning "kind, pleasant" is from 1902. Are you decent? (1949) was originally backstage theater jargon for "are you dressed."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper