dec·​o·​rous ˈde-kər-əs How to pronounce decorous (audio)
 also  di-ˈkȯr-əs
: marked by propriety and good taste : correct
decorous conduct
Ever decorous, she periodically excuses herself to another room rather than allow a guest to witness her blowing her nose.Will Hermes
decorously adverb
decorousness noun

Did you know?

Decorous Got Its Start With Etiquette

One of the earliest recorded uses of decorous appears in a book titled The Rules of Civility (1673): “It is not decorous to look in the Glass, to comb, brush, or do any thing of that nature to ourselves, whilst the said person be in the Room.” This rule of thumb may be a bit outdated; like many behaviors once deemed unbecoming, public primping is unlikely to offend in modern times. Though mores shift, decorous lives on to describe timeless courtesies like polite speech, proper attire, and (ahem) covering one’s cough.

Examples of decorous in a Sentence

we were asked to be on our most decorous behavior at the formal event the oppressively decorous standards of a royal court
Recent Examples on the Web Among the criers were some of the least decorous people in the country. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 13 Mar. 2024 Davidsen is statuesque, and her sound is too: grand and decorous. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2024 This soft-spoken, decorous family man has been tasked with helping the likes of Ang Lee, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spike Lee and Greta Gerwig find fresh and exciting ways to tell stories. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 22 Feb. 2024 One decorous young professional after another is attacked and transformed into a slavering monster, until at last all the residents converge in the heated pool. Becca Rothfeld, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2024 With a southerly breeze moving at a decorous pace, Washington seemed absolved from the need for protective winter gear and garments. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 24 Dec. 2023 The French hotel bidet of yore, used mainly for washing feet and entertaining toddlers, was thankfully absent—replaced by a marvelous Japanese Toto toilet, which solemnly raised its lid in decorous automatic greeting. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, 14 Dec. 2023 Yates draws a decorous curtain around the rest of the scene. S. C. Cornell, The New Yorker, 9 Dec. 2023 Gautreau looks queenly today, but the painting scandalized Parisians, who saw it as vulgar and attention-grabbing — especially the loose shoulder strap, which Sargent duly repainted in a more decorous position. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2023

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

Word History


Latin decorus, from decor beauty, grace; akin to Latin decēre to be fitting — more at decent

First Known Use

1653, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of decorous was in 1653


Dictionary Entries Near decorous

Cite this Entry

“Decorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


dec·​o·​rous ˈdek-ə-rəs How to pronounce decorous (audio)
 also  di-ˈkōr-əs,
: noticeable for proper behavior and good taste : correct
decorous conduct
decorously adverb
decorousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on decorous

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