Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Characterized by conformity to recognized standards of propriety or morality.
  • adjective Morally upright; moral or respectable.
  • adjective Kind or obliging.
  • adjective Showing thoughtfulness or consideration.
  • adjective Free from indelicacy or obscenity; clean.
  • adjective Fairly good; acceptable; satisfactory.
  • adjective Suitable; fitting.
  • adjective Informal Properly or modestly dressed.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Latin decēns, decent-, present participle of decēre, to be fitting; see dek- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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

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

    She Closed Her Eyes

  • 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

  • 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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