Definition of decent in English:


Line breaks: de¦cent
Pronunciation: /ˈdiːs(ə)nt


  • 1Conforming with generally accepted standards of respectable or moral behaviour: a decent clean-living individual
    More example sentences
    • Since then thousands of youngsters have learned good manners, decent behaviour and mutual respect, all through the seemingly anachronistic art of ballroom dancing.
    • We could help to maintain decent moral standards in advertising, by using our own purchasing power ethically.
    • We should be here in the House to establish decent standards of behaviour in our society.
  • 1.1Appropriate; fitting: they would meet again after a decent interval
    More example sentences
    • One source told Hersh that ‘after a decent interval,’ he would depart.
    • Some 19 months later, time enough for five or six decent intervals, Tenet still holds the job and appears to have job security, too.
    • Then came the main courses - served after a decent interval to allow some digesting and conversation to take place before studious consumption resumed.
    proper, correct, appropriate, apt, apposite, fitting, fit, befitting, right, suitable, respectable, dignified, becoming, decorous, seemly, modest, nice, tasteful, in good taste, refined, genteel; conventional, accepted, approved, standard, traditional, orthodox; French comme il faut
    informal pukka
  • 1.2Not likely to shock or embarrass others: a decent high-necked dress
    More example sentences
    • I also wondered why a manufacturer would make an otherwise decent dress too sheer so everyone can have a perve at your undies if you wear it.
    • From the sounds downstairs, my mother was trying to recover from last night's hangover and put on a decent dress for her daughters' weddings.
    • She got out of bed and changed into a decent dress of woolspun.
  • 1.3 informal Sufficiently clothed to see visitors: ‘Hello, miss? Are you decent?’
    More example sentences
    • Over the weekend I tend to wander around in my pyjamas, contact lenses not yet inserted, until after breakfast, before attempting to dress and get decent.
    • Now go get yourself decent, I'll call a cab
    • ‘Lyn are you there?’ Andrea said knocking. ‘Are you decent?’


do the decent thing

Take the most honourable or appropriate course of action, even if is not necessarily in one’s own interests: after his defeat he should do the decent thing and step down
More example sentences
  • It is high time that all concerned get off their horse and do the decent thing in the interest of the people.
  • Everyone makes mistakes and when they do, responsible media outlets do the decent thing and retract, apologise and pay damages if necessary.
  • Politicians, on the other hand, are not generally known or recognised for doing the decent thing, most especially in the campaign leading up to a general election.



More example sentences
  • For the next couple of years, he batted decently, with fairly successful series in West Indies and England.
  • In fact, they treated us pretty decently still, and promised to get my land line fixed and ADSL set up soon.
  • In the past some large organisations treated people paternalistically, but reasonably decently.


mid 16th century (in the sense 'suitable, appropriate'): from Latin decent- 'being fitting', from the verb decere.

More definitions of decent

Definition of decent in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody