dec·​o·​rous | \ ˈde-kər-əs How to pronounce decorous (audio) also di-ˈkȯr-əs \

Definition of decorous

: 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

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Other Words from decorous

decorously adverb
decorousness noun

Decorous Got Its Start With Etiquette

The current meaning of decorous dates from the mid-17th century. One of the word's earliest recorded uses 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." Decorous for a time had another meaning as well—"fitting or appropriate"—but that now-obsolete sense seems to have existed for only a few decades in the 17th century. Decorous derives from the Latin word decorus, an adjective created from the noun decor, meaning "beauty" or "grace." Decor is akin to the Latin verb decēre ("to be fitting"), which is the source of our adjective decent. It is only fitting, then, that decent can be a synonym of decorous.

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 Back in his Tri-Valley district on Saturday, fresh from a jog, Swalwell said the chaotic scene in the decorous halls of the Capitol was more infuriating than frightening. Michael Cabanatuan,, "Eric Swalwell was among the last lawmakers to leave House floor during Capitol attack. Here’s what he saw," 9 Jan. 2021 Indeed, the market around the decorous and curated celebration of golf, Southern hospitality and social status has appeared largely immune from the industry’s shifts, mostly because of how Augusta National sells Masters tickets. Alan Blinder, New York Times, "A Lack of Fans at the Masters Strains Those Who Would Sell the Experience," 14 Nov. 2020 Raphael was graceful and decorous in style, Michelangelo forever in his Terrible Twos. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Immovable Raphael," 19 Sep. 2020 Instead, Chief Justice John Roberts called on the justices in order of seniority, a more decorous process that moved Justice Clarence Thomas to abandon his usual silence on the bench and participate actively in questioning. Star Tribune, "Online access to SCOTUS arguments is a pandemic plus," 14 Aug. 2020 That kind of decorous vulgarity is a major component here, along with more puerile genital jokes than your average frat house. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Love Wedding Repeat': Film Review," 10 Apr. 2020 Turning to the courts appeared more decorous and less aggressive than arresting administration officials. Kirsten Carlson, The Conversation, "Reports of the death of congressional oversight are greatly exaggerated," 17 Mar. 2020 The film is quiet, in a literal sense—a subtle score, a decorous conversational register. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Clemency Grapples With the Banal Evil of the Death Penalty," 17 Jan. 2020 The proceedings, which took place a few blocks away, after lunch, were more decorous but more alarming. David Rohde, The New Yorker, "In Congress and at the Justice Department, a Bad Day for Fact, Fairness, and the Future," 10 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decorous.' 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 decorous

1653, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for decorous

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

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Time Traveler for decorous

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The first known use of decorous was in 1653

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Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for decorous


How to pronounce decorous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decorous

formal : correct and polite in a particular situation

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