a. Characterized by conformity to recognized standards of propriety or morality: a respected citizen who led a decent life; children brought up in decent homes.
b. Morally upright; moral or respectable: "the corruption that allows the unscrupulous to grow rich while decent people labor to earn an honest wage" (Amitav Ghosh).
c. Kind or obliging: very decent of them to lend you money.
d. Showing thoughtfulness or consideration: let a decent interval go by before calling.
2. Free from indelicacy or obscenity; clean: decent television programming for children.
3. Fairly good; acceptable; satisfactory: finally got a decent night's sleep; made decent wages in the new job.
a. Suitable; fitting: had nothing decent to wear to the reception.
b. Informal Properly or modestly dressed: The guests are here—are you decent?
[Latin decēns, decent-, present participle of decēre, to be fitting; see dek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus