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

Keep scrolling for more

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 And starting in 1565, after years of criticism that deemed the naked figures of the Last Judgment obscene, decorous draperies were painted over their genitals. New York Times, "Gianluigi Colalucci, Who Showed Michelangelo’s True Colors, Dies at 91," 5 Apr. 2021 The pose is decorous, but the real cover stems from Nemser’s expression, which is alert with vigilant curiosity. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "It’s Time to Put Alice Neel in Her Rightful Place in the Pantheon," 1 Apr. 2021 Which is not to say Chiapponi is hung up on decorous good taste. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, "Walter Chiapponi, Tod’s New Creative Director, Is Bringing the Brand’s Light Touch to the Whole Wardrobe," 27 Mar. 2021 Several Republicans, including lawmakers who have had Covid-19, continue to resist wearing masks elsewhere in the Capitol, and a nasty spat broke out about the practice on Monday on the normally decorous Senate floor. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, "As Grassley Tests Positive, Virus Threatens to Stall Work in Congress," 17 Nov. 2020 There were some less decorous crowd moments, as well. Justin Bergman, Star Tribune, "Australian Open goes quiet as lockdown keeps crowds away," 13 Feb. 2021 There were some less decorous crowd moments, as well. Justin Bergman, ajc, "Australian Open goes quiet as lockdown keeps crowds away," 13 Feb. 2021 Beside him, his wife wore a powder blue Ralph Lauren suit and matching gloves, her hair in a decorous twist. New York Times, "A Farewell to the Trump Aesthetic," 16 Jan. 2021 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Listen to Our Podcast about decorous

Statistics for decorous

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for decorous



English Language Learners Definition of decorous

formal : correct and polite in a particular situation

More from Merriam-Webster on decorous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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