Definition of decent in English:

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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?’
2 [attributive] Of an acceptable standard; satisfactory: people need decent homes
More example sentences
  • As always I struck up a conversation with the barista, commenting it had been three days since I'd had a decent cup of coffee.
  • The text is a decent size; leading satisfactory; and it's longish - nearly 400 pages - but not too long.
  • They were both pretty ordinary, lived normal lives, made satisfactory grades and were decent looking.
satisfactory, reasonable, fair, acceptable, adequate, sufficient, sufficiently good, good enough, ample, up to scratch, up to the mark, up to standard, up to par, competent, not bad, all right, average, tolerable, passable, suitable
informal OK, okay, up to snuff
2.1Good: there’s a few decent players in the team
More example sentences
  • Cash also plays its part in managerial success, but the £5m that Moyes has been given to spend represents no more than a down payment on a decent Premiership player.
  • Somehow, the York players transformed themselves into what we all know they have the potential to be - decent rugby players.
  • A person who loves watching movies can never be alone when they have a decent VHS or DVD player.
2.2British informal Kind, obliging, or generous: that’s awfully decent of you
More example sentences
  • Frank has always been approachable, a very honest, decent, generous man, with a great sense of humour too.
  • Lots of Tories hold a strange affection to the ageing leftie, and when I read the last volume of his diaries he came across as a very decent, generous fellow.
  • So let no-one say British people aren't decent, aren't generous.
honourable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, worthy, respectable, upright, clean-living, incorrupt, virtuous, good, ethical, moral;
obliging, helpful, accommodating, indulgent, unselfish, altruistic, generous, kind, kindly, thoughtful, considerate, courteous, civil, polite, well mannered, neighbourly, hospitable, pleasant, agreeable, amiable
informal squeaky clean
dated mannerly
rare regardful


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.


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

Words that rhyme with decent


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de¦cent

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