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

But sometimes your contacts laugh in the face of common decency and do it anyway. Korin Miller, SELF, "Why Do My Contacts Keep Popping Out of My Eyes?," 29 Aug. 2018 Compared to that, Lennon and McCartney were a model of collaborative decency. Dominic Green, WSJ, "‘Help!’ Review: Credit Where Credit Is Due," 16 Nov. 2018 This combination of courage and decency that makes the American military something new in history. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of George W. Bush's Eulogy for John McCain," 1 Sep. 2018 For the sake of basic human decency: please do not live tweet dates, do not live tweet flirting, do not live tweet breakups, makeups, or meet cutes. Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, "Stop Live-Tweeting Strangers Flirting," 9 July 2018 In a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, a dozen Republican senators said separating families isn't consistent with American values and ordinary human decency. Author: Garance Burke, Martha Mendoza, Anchorage Daily News, "Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters," 20 June 2018 In a letter sent to Sessions on Tuesday, a dozen Republican senators said separating families isn't consistent with American values and ordinary human decency. Garance Burke And Martha Mendoza, The Christian Science Monitor, "More than 2,300 migrant babies and toddlers kept alone in US shelters," 20 June 2018 Smith proposed that an ordinance similar to something that New Orleans already has in place could respect freedom of speech and preserve a spirit of decency in public celebrations. Michael Dumas,, "Order of LaShe's make the most of Mardi Gras rain delay in downtown Mobile," 8 Feb. 2018 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

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

8 Dec 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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