de·cen·cy | \ˈdē-sᵊn-sē \
plural decencies

Definition of decency 

1 archaic

a : fitness

b : orderliness

2a : the quality or state of being decent : propriety

b : conformity to standards of taste, propriety, or quality

3 : standard of propriety usually used in plural

4 decencies plural : conditions or services considered essential for a proper standard of living

5 : literary decorum

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Synonyms & Antonyms for decency


decorum, form, propriety


impropriety, indecency, indecorum

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Examples of decency in a Sentence

Decency, not fear of punishment, caused them to do the right thing. Sending aid to the victims was simply a matter of common decency. If you're going to be late, please have the decency to call and let me know. Have you no sense of decency? He had been taught to observe the ordinary decencies.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "What Trump's 'zero-tolerance' immigration policy means for children separated from families at border," 19 June 2018 His work instead often tends to champion common, simple Alabama values, such as decency and honesty. Bob Sims,, "'s John Archibald wins 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary," 16 Apr. 2018 Sadly, his views and his presidency serve to embolden other hateful people and to diminish our nation's position as a power for good, for decency, for democracy. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "How Much More of Trump's Insanity Are We Willing to Take?," 12 Jan. 2018 Here are nine post-millennial baddies whose wickedness is often cut with bits of decency, victimization, or gentility. Matthew Gilbert,, "The best villains on TV," 6 July 2018 By not attending, this president continues his bulldozing of American traditions like decency, inclusiveness and fair play. Elayne Boosler, Time, "I Was a Correspondents' Dinner Comedian. Michelle Wolf Was No Bully," 1 May 2018 The lack of civility seems to be quickly devolving into a breakdown of decency. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Trump, race and why it seems like a hate-fueled confrontation might happen anywhere, anytime," 12 July 2018 In addition to being perfectly legal, the relocation program affirmed the highest standards of decency. Brian Goldstone, The New Republic, "Essential reporting, interpretation, and opinion on politics and culture. Don't miss our latest.," 26 June 2018 The Trump immigration agenda has failed utterly by not only the standards of human decency but by its own metrics. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Genesis of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of decency

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for decency

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for decency

The first known use of decency was in 1567

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More Definitions for decency



English Language Learners Definition of decency

: polite, moral, and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people

decencies : the behaviors that people in a society consider to be proper or acceptable


de·cen·cy | \ˈdē-sᵊn-sē \
plural decencies

Kids Definition of decency

: a way or habit of behaving with good manners or good morals Show some decency and apologize.

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More from Merriam-Webster on decency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decency

Spanish Central: Translation of decency

Nglish: Translation of decency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decency for Arabic Speakers

Comments on decency

What made you want to look up decency? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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