Definition of decent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdēs(ə)nt/


1Conforming with generally accepted standards of respectable or moral behavior: the good name of such a decent and innocent person
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  • 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
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  • 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, fitting, suitable;
respectable, dignified, decorous, seemly;
nice, tasteful;
conventional, accepted, standard, traditional, orthodox;
comme il faut
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: make yourself decent
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  • 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: find me a decent cup of coffee people need decent homes
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  • 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, ample;
not bad, all right, tolerable, passable, suitable
informal OK, okay, up to snuff
2.1Good: the deer are small: a 14-inch spread is a pretty decent buck
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.
2.2Kind, obliging, or generous: that was pretty awfully decent of him
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.
honorable, honest, trustworthy, dependable;
respectable, upright, clean-living, virtuous, good;
obliging, helpful, accommodating, unselfish, generous, kind, thoughtful, considerate;
neighborly, hospitable, pleasant, agreeable, amiable


do the decent thing

Take the most honorable 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

Syllabification: de·cent

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