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

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 An art form associated with decorous entertainment and sensual pleasure suddenly became the purveyor of deeper spiritual truths, a shift reinforced by writers of the time. Jeremy Eichler,, 24 Sep. 2022 Some found his methods offensive, or at least insufficiently decorous. New York Times, 5 Aug. 2022 The vote, shown on national television, was a decorous, solemn affair. Krishan Francis, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 July 2022 The vote, shown on national television, was a decorous, solemn affair. Krishan Francis, ajc, 20 July 2022 Enacted under James I and invoking his authority, the code makes the point in less decorous terms that no rights protected anyone to whom the laws applied. Marilynne Robinson, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 Many high-profile litigants wear notably decorous hairstyles and accessories to court. Rory Satran, WSJ, 23 May 2022 Over the millennia, the flute has come to be seen as delicate, decorous, ethereal. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 The disclosure of a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade, along with related reports of the court’s internal workings, has transformed a decorous and guarded institution into one riven by politics. New York Times, 11 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About decorous

Time Traveler for decorous

Time Traveler

The first known use of decorous was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near decorous




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for decorous

Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Decorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on decorous

Nglish: Translation of decorous for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!