Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Characterized by conformity to recognized standards of propriety or morality.
  • adj. Free from indelicacy; modest.
  • adj. Meeting accepted standards; adequate: a decent salary.
  • adj. Morally upright; respectable.
  • adj. Kind or obliging: very decent of them to lend you money.
  • adj. Informal Properly or modestly dressed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Appropriate; suitable for the circumstances.
  • adj. Having a suitable conformity to basic moral standards; showing integrity, fairness, or other characteristics associated with moral uprightness.
  • adj. Sufficiently clothed or dressed to be seen.
  • adj. Fair; good enough; okay.
  • adj. Significant; substantial.
  • adj. Comely; shapely; well-formed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Suitable in words, behavior, dress, or ceremony; becoming; fit; decorous; proper; seemly.
  • adj. Free from immodesty or obscenity; modest.
  • adj. Comely; shapely; well-formed.
  • adj. Moderate, but competent; sufficient; hence, respectable; fairly good; reasonably comfortable or satisfying

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Becoming, fit, or suitable in words, behavior, dress, etc.; proper; seemly; decorous.
  • Specifically Proper with regard to modesty; free from indelicacy; conformable to some standard of modesty.
  • Moderate; respectable; fair; tolerable; passable; good enough: as, a decent fortune; he made a very decent appearance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. decently clothed
  • adj. sufficient for the purpose
  • adj. according with custom or propriety
  • adj. observing conventional sexual mores in speech or behavior or dress
  • adv. in the right manner
  • adj. conforming to conventions of sexual behavior
  • adj. socially or conventionally correct; refined or virtuous

Etymologies

Latin decēns, decent-, present participle of decēre, to be fitting; see dek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French décent, or its source, Latin decēns, present participle of decet ("it is fitting or suitable"), from Proto-Indo-European *deke-, from base *dek- (“to take, accept, to receive, greet, be suitable”) (compare Ancient Greek δοκεῖν (dokein, "to appear, seem, think"), δέχεσθαι (dekhesthai, "to accept"); Sanskrit dacasyati ("shows honor, is gracious"), dacati ("makes offerings, bestows")). Meaning kind, pleasant is from 1902. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Old alligators -- one couldn't call you men, and it's enough to make decent men squirm that you should be at large and be called by the same name -- can act like you and yet be considered respectable, but this is to show you what _decent_ women think of your likes, and their spirits are with us in armies to-night in what we are doing.

    Some Everyday Folk and Dawn

  • "decent people" advisedly, for those who bring this kind of suit _are decent_, wishing to act honorably and kindly, and carrying out the always difficult severing of the marriage bond with as little pain as possible.

    Women's Wild Oats Essays on the Re-fixing of Moral Standards

  • Astellas, which trades at below five times its earnings before interest, has bought back about 20% of its stock in the past seven years, Mr. de Lardemelle said, and has what he called a decent pipeline of drug development.

    Long in the Doldrums, Japan May be Poised to Bounce Back

  • People ought to be cremated in what she calls decent privacy.

    She Closed Her Eyes

  • I am glad to hear that Peter B is happy with what he call a decent organisation, its nice to know that out of the multitude of unhappy residents that at least a few are getting some service, just check this blog to see how the numbers stack up.

    Smells like trouble

  • Foodfreak said... on now that's what I call a decent pastry - sounds delicious and is very pretty!

    Spinach and Egg Pie

  • KOCH: And also of concern that to crack down on this insurgency, the new government is planning to bring back what it calls decent members of Saddam Hussein's army and police force.

    CNN Transcript Jun 28, 2004

  • In Baerlon, after her father died, her aunts had tried to make her into what they called a decent proper woman, though maybe her Aunt Miren had understood that after ten years running about the mines in boys 'clothes, it might be too late to stuff her into dresses.

    Lord of Chaos

  • He said I ought to insist on them having what he called decent attire.

    The Native Born or, the Rajah's People

  • "Does he never paint what they call decent people?" he inquired.

    December Love

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