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

Definition of decency

1 archaic

a : fitness
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

If the content of her character overcomes these youthful indiscretions, there is room in American politics for her vision of decency. WSJ, "Ocasio-Cortez Stumbles on 70% Tax Reality," 23 Jan. 2019 The president's words are ignorant and repulsive and an affront to decency and to history. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "How Much More of Trump's Insanity Are We Willing to Take?," 12 Jan. 2018 At the time the Titanic went down, William Howard Taft was president—a good and sweet-natured man who weighed more than 300 pounds, enough to sink a ship by himself: a white elephant of the old decencies. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Did Chivalry Go Down With the Titanic?," 14 Dec. 2018 His spirit of service and decency will be missed by many, including our family. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Michelle Obama Honors George H.W. Bush in Moving Instagram Post," 3 Dec. 2018 As platforms like Facebook and YouTube have shown us time and again, decency does not scale. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The game store that outshines Steam by staying small and weird," 29 Nov. 2018 Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. WSJ, "Transcript of George W. Bush’s Eulogy of His Father," 5 Dec. 2018 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

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

17 Feb 2019

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
formal : 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).


excited commotion or publicity

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