AskDefine | Define decent

Dictionary Definition

decent adj
1 socially or conventionally correct; refined or virtuous; "from a decent family"; "a nice girl" [syn: nice]
2 according with custom or propriety; "her becoming modesty"; "comely behavior"; "it is not comme il faut for a gentleman to be constantly asking for money"; "a decent burial"; "seemly behavior" [syn: becoming, comely, comme il faut, decorous, seemly]
3 conforming to conventions of sexual behavior; "speech in this circle, if not always decent, never became lewd"- George Santayana [ant: indecent]
4 enough to meet a purpose; "an adequate income"; "the food was adequate"; "a decent wage"; "enough food"; "food enough" [syn: adequate, enough]
5 decently clothed; "are you decent?"
6 observing conventional sexual mores in speech or behavior or dress; "a modest neckline in her dress"; "though one of her shoulder straps had slipped down, she was perfectly decent by current standards" adv : in the right manner; "please do your job properly!"; "can't you carry me decent?" [syn: properly, decently, in good order, right, the right way] [ant: improperly]

User Contributed Dictionary




Proper to one's station or rank, also tasteful, from Middle French decent, from decentem (nominative decens, genitive decentis), present participle of decere, from , from base (compare Greek dokein, dekhesthai; Sanskrit dacasyati, dacati). Meaning kind, pleasant is from 1902.


  1. fair; good enough; okay
    He's a decent saxophonist, but probably not good enough to make a career of it.
  2. significant; substantial
    There are a decent number of references out there, if you can find them.
  3. sufficiently clothed or dressed to be seen
    Are you decent? Can I come in?
  4. being a person of integrity

Related terms


fair; good enough; okay
significant; substantial
sufficiently clothed
being a person of integrity

Usage notes

Sometimes confused with descent.

Extensive Definition

Decency is conformity to sociocultural standards of conduct and speech.
Standards of decency vary greatly depending on the cultural context. Most nations have laws against indecency which regulate certain sexual acts, and restrict one's ability to display certain parts of the body in public (see indecent exposure).

Definitions of indecency in England and Wales

The terms indecency and indecent have wide application in English law, but are not defined in any legislation. Historically, the words' dictionary definitions (as opposed to legal definitions) helped to resolve legal disputes concerning the scope or application of the terms.
  • In R v Stanley (1965), Lord Parker attempted to differentiate indecency from obscenity:
"The words indecent or obscene convey one idea: namely, offending against the recognised standards of propriety—indecent being at the lower end of the scale and obscene at the upper end of the scale."
  • In Knuller v DPP, Lord Reid said that indecency includes "anything which an ordinary decent man or woman would find to be shocking, disgusting, or revolting."
  • In R v Graham-Kerr (1988), Stocker L. J. said that the appropriate test in the case of the Protection of Children Act 1978 was the application of the "recognised standards of propriety" stated in R v Stamford (1972).

External links

decent in German: Anstand
decent in French: Décence
decent in Dutch: Fatsoen
decent in Portuguese: Decência
decent in Russian: Порядочность
decent in Serbian: Пристојност

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christian, Christlike, Christly, OK, acceptable, accepted, accommodating, according to Hoyle, acknowledged, adequate, admissible, admitted, advantageous, advisable, affable, affectionate, agreeable, all right, amiable, ample, appropriate, approved, ascetic, austere, average, barely sufficient, becoming, befitting, being done, benevolent, benign, benignant, better than nothing, blameless, brotherly, chaste, civil, clean, comfortable, comme il faut, commensurate, common, compassionate, competent, complaisant, compliant, condign, conformable, conforming, congruous, considerate, convenient, conventional, correct, corresponding, courteous, creditable, customary, de rigueur, decorous, delicate, desirable, dignified, due, elegant, enough, equal to, erect, estimable, ethical, expedient, fair, fair to middling, fairish, fate, favorable, feasible, felicitous, fit, fitten, fitting, formal, fraternal, friendly, fructuous, full of integrity, generous, genteel, good, good enough, goodish, gracious, happy, high-minded, high-principled, highly respectable, honest, honorable, human, humane, immaculate, indulgent, inviolate, irreproachable, just, kind, kindhearted, kindly, kindly-disposed, kosher, law-abiding, law-loving, law-revering, likely, loving, manly, mannerly, mediocre, meet, middling, minimal, minimum, moderate, modest, moral, nice, noble, normal, normative, not amiss, not bad, not half bad, not outstanding, not so bad, obliging, okay, opportune, ordinary, orthodox, overindulgent, overpermissive, passable, permissive, plenty, plenty good enough, polite, politic, presentable, pretty good, principled, profitable, proper, proportionate, pure, reasonable, received, recognized, recommendable, reputable, respectable, right, right and proper, right-minded, righteous, rightful, rigid, satisfactory, seasonable, seemly, severe, so so, softhearted, sortable, spotless, stainless, sterling, strict, substantial, sufficient, sufficient for, sufficing, suitable, sympathetic, sympathizing, tasteful, tender, tenderhearted, thoughtful, tidy, timely, to be desired, tolerable, traditional, true-dealing, true-devoted, true-disposing, true-souled, true-spirited, truehearted, unblemished, uncorrupt, uncorrupted, undefiled, unexceptionable, unexceptional, unimpeachable, unimpressive, unobjectionable, unspotted, unstained, unsullied, untarnished, up to, upright, uprighteous, upstanding, urbane, useful, virtuous, warm, warmhearted, well-bred, well-timed, wise, workmanlike, worthwhile, worthy, yeomanly
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