dec·o·rous | \ˈde-kər-əs 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

She felt torn, in that class, between the imperative to teach the kind of decorous speech that would be helpful in a job interview and the desire to hear the authentic voices of her young black and brown students, profanities and all. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "A Play Caught in the Crossfire," 12 June 2018 The courtroom scenes in Part 3 are decorous but then out of control. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "Review: ‘A Very English Scandal’ Is Very Good. And Scandalous.," 28 June 2018 The ever-decorous Barnes, reached by phone Wednesday, said that she was honored to be recognized. Bill Turque, kansascity, "Former mayor Kay Barnes finally has something named for her (hint: it’s not a street)," 31 May 2018 Sparkling lights, winsome greenery and decorous florals abounded in the St. Charles Room of Loyola University Danna Center for the Holy Name of Jesus School's auction and gala on April 6. Sue Strachan,, "Holy Name of Jesus School gala a spritely success," 8 May 2018 Inspirational subject matter and decorous visuals should add up to solid buyer interest in Cannes, especially from high-end TV outlets. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The State Against Mandela and the Others': Film Review | Cannes 2018," 14 May 2018 At the start of the 20th century such decorous tactics were the preference of feminists around the world, from America’s Susan B. Anthony to France’s Jeanne Schmahl and New Zealand’s Kate Sheppard. The Economist, "What modern campaigners can learn from the fight for women’s suffrage," 19 Apr. 2018 The exhibits commissioned by the Chicago curators are likely to exist in tension with this decorous container. Blair Kamin,, "Chicago architects take the lead for U.S. pavilion at prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale," 12 Mar. 2018 How useful this was to the project of building a mature political party with governing potential was a matter of opinion, but López believed that the movement would get nowhere by relying on decorous party mechanics. Wil S. Hylton, New York Times, "Can Venezuela Be Saved?," 1 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for decorous

The first known use of decorous was in 1653

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English Language Learners Definition of decorous

: correct and polite in a particular situation

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