de·​cen·​cy | \ ˈdē-sᵊn-sē How to pronounce decency (audio) \
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

So when it was discovered after the Diamond and Silk congressional carnival that the two had taken money from white nationalist Paul Nehlen, various laws of nature, common decency and civility were broken. Jason Johnson, The Root, "Diamond and Silk Broke About a Million Laws Thursday in Congress, and They Might Need a Lawyer," 27 Apr. 2018 As played by Emmerich, Stan is not the perfect portrait of American decency in opposition to Philip and Elizabeth Jennings' Soviet comrades. Esther Zuckerman, GQ, "The Americans," 28 Mar. 2018 There is a basic decency in Walker that is too rare in today's politics. Author: Charles Wohlforth | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "The governor’s clemency power has been restored. Here’s why that matters.," 5 Feb. 2018 In the midst of squalor, surrounded by adult predators and parents too mired in their own poverty and misery to protect the young and vulnerable, Zain uses his wits and his inner decency to try to do the right thing. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘Capernaum’: A street kid in Beirut tries to do the right thing in powerful Oscar-nominated film," 5 Feb. 2019 Flake is the retiring Never Trump Republican, torn between his crusade for civility and decency and his allegiance to the GOP. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The Senate bloc that could decide Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation," 3 Oct. 2018 Most Afghan politicians don’t subscribe to the basic principles of civil politics: morality, civility and decency. Javid Ahmad, WSJ, "The Mafia That Threatens Afghanistan," 19 Sep. 2018 People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. Mike Debonis, Washington Post, "Meghan McCain dismisses ‘nothingburgers’ attacking her ailing father, John McCain," 11 May 2018 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

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

14 Apr 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 How to pronounce decency (audio) \
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).


an enemy or opponent

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