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 In fact, the shapes their bodies make are to the decorous postures of adults as children’s halting speech is to adult fluency. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Move over, mom!," 27 Nov. 2019 The aggressive approach is also new territory for Biden, the former vice president who served for decades as a decorous senator and typically tempers rebukes of opponents with mentions of their good character., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 11 Nov. 2019 The aggressive approach is also new territory for Mr. Biden, the former vice president who served for decades as a decorous senator and typically tempers rebukes of opponents with mentions of their good character. Katie Glueck, New York Times, "Biden’s Attacks on Warren Turn Personal, Drawing Some Complaints of Sexism," 10 Nov. 2019 Days after a mass shooting at one of Walmart Inc.’s stores in El Paso last month, the nation’s largest retailer offered a cautious and decorous response. Sarah Halzack | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Walmart’s Small Move on Guns Could Have a Big Impact," 4 Sep. 2019 Formed in the rebellion’s wake, GLF was more radical than earlier groups that staged pioneering, decorous demonstrations. Jennifer Peltz, Twin Cities, "Stories of Stonewall: How the LGBTQ rebellion left a legacy," 24 June 2019 Ballparks, however, were far less decorous than the other urban pleasure grounds. Blair Kamin,, "Column: These fields of dreams aren’t in Iowa cornfields," 21 June 2019 Down below was the separation barrier, with decorous brickwork beautifying the side facing an Israeli settlement. David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, "Touring the Israeli Occupation: Young U.S. Jews Get an Unflinching View," 10 July 2019 By and large, though, Pei delivered reliably decorous schemes for institutional clients most concerned that their buildings not look dated too soon. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, "I.M. Pei: Establishment Modernism Lite," 24 May 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

17 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Decorous.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on decorous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decorous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decorous

Nglish: Translation of decorous for Spanish Speakers

Comments on decorous

What made you want to look up decorous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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