de·​cent ˈdē-sᵊnt How to pronounce decent (audio)
: marked by moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill
hard-working and decent folks
it's very decent of them to help
: conforming to standards of propriety, good taste, or morality
decent behavior
: modestly clothed
: free from immodesty or obscenity
decent language
: fairly good : adequate, satisfactory
decent wages
: well-formed : handsome
decently adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for decent

chaste, pure, modest, decent mean free from all taint of what is lewd or salacious.

chaste primarily implies a refraining from acts or even thoughts or desires that are not virginal or not sanctioned by marriage vows.

they maintained chaste relations

pure differs from chaste in implying innocence and absence of temptation rather than control of one's impulses and actions.

the pure of heart

modest and decent apply especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity.

preferred more modest swimsuits
decent people didn't go to such movies

Examples of decent in a Sentence

Not long afterward, his father's health starts to fail. Mrs. Queenan has kicked him out, and he's landed in a flophouse. When word reaches Joe, he takes out his checkbook and moves his father into a decent apartment. James McManus, New York Times Book Review, 26 Apr. 2009
In a whiney, rambling speech at his sentencing he took a page from the script of the earlier case, once again portraying himself as a flawed but decent man unfairly caught up in circumstances. Bill Hewitt et al., People, 22 Dec. 2008
Tommy Railles, the doctor's boy. Just a great kid. Smart at school, a decent athlete, great with the girls, wonderful with older people. Ward Just, Forgetfulness, (2006) 2007
The next time an overly friendly blond sidles up in a crowded bar and asks you to order her a brand-name martini, or a cheery tourist couple wonder whether you can take their picture with their sleek new camera-in-a-cell phone, you might want to think twice. There's a decent chance that these strangers are pitchmen in disguise, paid to oh-so-subtly pique your interest in their product. Paul McFedries, Word Spy, 2004
I don't understand how so decent a person could be involved with this kind of crime. He is a decent guy who would help anyone in need. You need to do the decent thing and tell her what happened. Are there any decent schools in that area? I've got to get some decent clothes.
Recent Examples on the Web But simply being asked, or being scowled at, does not mean that you are required to support the dubious business practice of using shame to shift the responsibility for providing decent wages from the company to you. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2024 It was required this week, after Athletic won the Copa del Rey last Saturday, but the barge has been docked for so long — 40 years, in fact — that the club’s staff had to spend a decent portion of Sunday cleaning off the rust. Rory Smith, New York Times, 12 Apr. 2024 The change will likely signal a decent break from cold, cloudy and wet. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, 12 Apr. 2024 By ending on this note, Curb seems to concede that there’s no one right way to be a decent human. Paula Mejía, The Atlantic, 11 Apr. 2024 There should be some decent mosh pit action for this set, too. Vanessa Franko, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2024 A little bit of knowledge goes a long way towards recreating the circumstances for a decent conversation between us. Morgan Meaker, WIRED, 9 Apr. 2024 Anker’s wireless earbuds offer a lot of value for your money, with decent noise cancellation, powerful sound, and a host of other convenient perks — including multipoint Bluetooth support and swappable wing tips for a more secure fit. Sheena Vasani, The Verge, 8 Apr. 2024 Almost anyone with a digital camera, a solar lens filter and the patience to read explainers online can get a decent photo of it. Elissaveta M. Brandon, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin decent-, decens, present participle of decēre to be fitting; akin to Latin decus honor, dignus worthy, Greek dokein to seem, seem good

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 5a

Time Traveler
The first known use of decent was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near decent

Cite this Entry

“Decent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​cent ˈdēs-ᵊnt How to pronounce decent (audio)
: agreeing with standards of proper behavior, good taste, or morality
: clothed in a proper and suitable manner and style
: free from poor taste or bad manners
our conversations were always decent, never obscene
: fairly good : adequate
decent housing
decently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on decent

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