Definition of decent in US English:

decent

adjective

  • 1Conforming with generally accepted standards of respectable or moral behavior.

    ‘the good name of such a decent and innocent person’
    • ‘Don't get me wrong, I work with nice, decent people.’
    • ‘We have a lot of nice, decent people who come here to drink, and will have nowhere else to go if it is shut.’
    • ‘Society has allowed a lowering of standards and eroded the rules of decent, thoughtful behaviour.’
    • ‘He said it had once been a decent community, a nice place to live, but it had gone downhill in the last five years.’
    • ‘Ninety nine percent of Heysham High pupils are decent, respectful, hardworking and a credit to their parents.’
    • ‘Both these people have talent but far more than that they come across as nice, decent, genuine young people.’
    • ‘I am impressed with the other family though, who kept their cool in the face of such childish behaviour and showed what decent people they were.’
    • ‘It's insulting to my morals as a decent human being to have to watch people degrade themselves on television and use sly tactics in order to win money.’
    • ‘Since then thousands of youngsters have learned good manners, decent behaviour and mutual respect, all through the seemingly anachronistic art of ballroom dancing.’
    • ‘Then the question that arises is what sort of political institutions and practices are appropriate in a decent society.’
    • ‘I suppose it's harmless and they're all decent, nice people, but we don't have much in common.’
    • ‘We should be here in the House to establish decent standards of behaviour in our society.’
    • ‘The majority of people who live on that north Peckham estate are decent, peaceful and moral.’
    • ‘We could help to maintain decent moral standards in advertising, by using our own purchasing power ethically.’
    • ‘If some leader was prepared to argue the decent moral position, people would follow.’
    • ‘There is no place for it in a decent and moral society.’
    • ‘But this is Australia and most people are fair, decent and respect difference.’
    • ‘I talk to a nice, decent guy who understands my frustration but can't do jack about it.’
    • ‘But there used to be limits that decent men and women respected.’
    • ‘In Anne's case, the overriding impression was that of a dignified and decent woman struggling hard to cope with the pain of ending a marriage which just hadn't worked out.’
    respectable, upright, upstanding, honourable, honest, on the level, right-minded, law-abiding
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Appropriate; fitting.
      ‘they would meet again after a decent interval’
      • ‘The mildest critics argued that they were premature and that a decent interval should have been allowed before the struggle to analyse and understand began.’
      • ‘In that case, the decision, after some hesitation, was to cancel sporting events for a decent interval.’
      • ‘There isn't a decent interval of time during which one must hold on to a present out of respect to the giver, although the introduction of such a tradition would save a lot of heartache.’
      • ‘No one's come up with a brilliant new scheme (and publishers have to wait a decent interval before repackaging the old ones).’
      • ‘After a decent interval of days, the identity of the new Prime Minister was no surprise.’
      • ‘For our grand finale, ordered after a decent interval, there was only ever going to be one choice for me, the dark treacle custard tart with rum soaked raisins.’
      • ‘After a decent interval, Prince George married his late brother's fiancée, Princess May, and they were a far more suitable couple than she and Eddy would have been.’
      • ‘After a decent interval, laughter became acceptable as a means of relieving the tension.’
      • ‘So, after a decent interval occupied by morning chores, off we went into the sunshine.’
      • ‘Some 19 months later, time enough for five or six decent intervals, Tenet still holds the job and appears to have job security, too.’
      • ‘Willingness to consider foreign judicial views in comparable cases is not surprising in a Nation that from its birth has given a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.’
      • ‘After a decent interval, a period of dating and familiarisation, and ultimately marriage and homemaking, the first children were born.’
      • ‘Then came the main courses - served after a decent interval to allow some digesting and conversation to take place before studious consumption resumed.’
      • ‘These orders were invariably cancelled, after a decent interval, due to the whims of our fictitious clients.’
      • ‘Though Adams was a doubter on many aspects of Christianity, he nonetheless had a decent respect for it.’
      • ‘I chatted for a decent interval, then picked up my book, smiled, and wished them a pleasant vacation.’
      • ‘One source told Hersh that ‘after a decent interval,’ he would depart.’
      • ‘After a decent interval he and Madeleine left Carew to his liqueurs and cynicism and headed back across the square to the Hotel Adernis.’
      • ‘After a decent interval has passed, we'll hear what they're going to do.’
      • ‘We must hope that when we all come to look back, after a decent interval, we shall not regret our lack of interest.’
      proper, correct, appropriate, apt, apposite, fitting, fit, befitting, right, suitable, respectable, dignified, becoming, decorous, seemly, modest, nice, tasteful, in good taste, refined, genteel
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Not likely to shock or embarrass others.
      ‘a decent high-necked dress’
      • ‘She got out of bed and changed into a decent dress of woolspun.’
      • ‘And for heaven's sake people, put some decent clothes on your daughter.’
      • ‘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 made for a decent picture dressed in simple dark brown cashmere, and her hair placed in a simple bun at the nape of her neck.’
      • ‘Besides, I also don't want to see your hairy chest… wear some decent clothes.’
      • ‘Others find her propensity for tacky glamour and ostentatious lack of decent clothing a little too much to bear.’
      • ‘He also made the request that people who attended should attend in decent dress, as per a golf course.’
      • ‘By the time she was dressed and looking somewhat decent, she had only three minutes until Aidan was due to arrive.’
      • ‘Coincidentally, she had on very decent clothes as well, I think it was a buttoned up cardigan with jeans.’
    3. 1.3informal Sufficiently clothed to see visitors.
      ‘make yourself decent’
      • ‘Now go get yourself decent, I'll call a cab’
      • ‘"Yeah, well I'm glad one person is half decent here besides myself.’
      • ‘‘Lyn are you there?’ Andrea said knocking. ‘Are you decent?’’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2attributive Of an acceptable standard; satisfactory.

    ‘people need decent homes’
    ‘find me a decent cup of coffee’
    • ‘Those of us who depend on a decent public transport service are entitled to ask Mr Hughes for a list of those bus routes he intends to chop if he is elected.’
    • ‘A decent crowd of 1,526 witnessed something of a shock result, but really the game was as one-sided as anything seen at Cougar Park this season.’
    • ‘The truth is, most lawyers in Canada make a decent, modest living.’
    • ‘Leeds Council has been working successfully for a number of years with many responsible landlords who provide decent accommodation.’
    • ‘Anthony Fedorov has a decent voice, but he's more likely to make it through on sympathy votes.’
    • ‘A respected international footballer speaking decent Spanish and enjoying life in Madrid should shut up both the snobs and the Europhobes.’
    • ‘We don't have a preference for any particular part of town, just a nice B&B with decent Tube access.’
    • ‘Try as I would, I couldn't seem to make a decent cup of tea, and it even looked odd - a dismal grey instead of a healthy brown.’
    • ‘Naples suffers from a dearth of decent affordable accommodation.’
    • ‘Quite how authentically Tunisian the snake charmers, contortionists and belly dancers were I don't know, but it was a good laugh and the meal was decent enough.’
    • ‘The defense has been respectable and the pitching decent.’
    • ‘They use cheap materials and actually destroy a lot of decent furniture and fittings in the process - if something is considered unfashionable it gets taken out or painted over.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Without a decent road network and fitting sewerage system, Livingstone is bound to not only lose out on increased numbers of tourists but also job creation.’
    • ‘We want clean, quiet hospital wards with appropriate privacy and decent food.’
    • ‘The text is a decent size; leading satisfactory; and it's longish - nearly 400 pages - but not too long.’
    • ‘Don't get me wrong I'm not a habititual complainer, but I expect to be given a decent service and politeness, not much to ask is it?’
    • ‘They were both pretty ordinary, lived normal lives, made satisfactory grades and were decent looking.’
    • ‘Many women are angry that the system fails to give them a decent income and it is an issue that is likely to affect their votes on polling day.’
    • ‘The eight English clubs with the most money should really compete for the European places if they have a half decent manager and appropriate board level backing.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Good.
      ‘the deer are small: a 14-inch spread is a pretty decent buck’
      • ‘A person who loves watching movies can never be alone when they have a decent VHS or DVD player.’
      • ‘If you think for a minute that I don't want a nice house, a decent car, gadgets and remote controls, then you've really got the wrong idea.’
      • ‘It's satisfying to get two decent, sustaining main meals for two hungry blokes out of one medium sized chicken.’
      • ‘She is offering to get me the Vegas Video 4.0 upgrade for my services, and that means decent colour correction tools, which I'd kill for.’
      • ‘It was followed by a decent Caesar salad, with a tangy dressing that was appropriately not too creamy after the pot of cheese we'd just consumed.’
      • ‘Results are decent, the players are happy again, the club is doing well.’
      • ‘Apart from being a decent player, he's also a nice lad and is the skipper this year.’
      • ‘In this vein, as well as the fact that this recipe is Ligurian in its history, it seemed only appropriate to post a decent pesto recipe.’
      • ‘It's as good a day as I've had in football, and I was lucky enough to have some decent days as a player.’
      • ‘It's been a disappointing season for us so far, so to have a decent run in the Cup is massive for us, and massive for the fans as well.’
      • ‘So, if you live not too far away, make sure it is on your list of places to visit next time you want to sit down to a decent meal and a nice glass of wine without breaking the bank.’
      • ‘Because they have only a handful of decent players, trades have been hard to come by - you can't get something for nothing.’
      • ‘Somehow, the York players transformed themselves into what we all know they have the potential to be - decent rugby players.’
      • ‘Now I am not going to complain if they do put more stuff out of this nature but I think that there is quite a lot already - maybe I would like at least one programme a night but some decent drama would be nice as well.’
      • ‘‘They are playing really well and they have some decent young players, so they are a hard team to play against,’ conceded Paul.’
      • ‘A decent game of football was never likely as both teams struggled to adapt to the atrocious conditions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's fair to say that a few decent shops would be nice and many areas of the town could do with a facelift, but that does not mean we live in misery and squalor.’
      • ‘What you have here is nice folks running a decent restaurant with unique food.’
      • ‘If you put all of those young players into the team at the same time, without some really decent players alongside them, you will lose.’
    2. 2.2British informal Kind, obliging, or generous.
      ‘that was pretty awfully decent of him’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was a grand decent neighbour, reliable and dependable, and one of the fine ‘old stock’ of the parish.’
      • ‘‘David was the best husband you could wish for; he was loving, dependable and considerate, a very decent man,’ she said.’
      • ‘Tommie was regarded among all who knew him as a very decent and obliging man.’
      • ‘I told her everything and she listened, which I thought was pretty decent of a total stranger who looked sober.’
      • ‘So let no-one say British people aren't decent, aren't generous.’
      • ‘We may disagree on much, but he's a thoughtful, decent man.’
      • ‘Brett has been Mr House Husband today, cooking dinner and now doing the washing up, which is very decent of him as I'm feeling a bit rough for some reason.’
      • ‘It was decent of him to apologize to you.’
      • ‘John and Rich were very decent though, agreeing to sleep on the lounge floor.’
      • ‘I enjoy Paul's company and judge him to be decent and generous-hearted.’
      • ‘If you stick around and look underneath the make-up you just may find a very decent and worthy human being.’
      • ‘He's a decent bloke, kind, generous and gentle to a fault.’
      • ‘Frank has always been approachable, a very honest, decent, generous man, with a great sense of humour too.’
      honourable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, worthy, respectable, upright, clean-living, incorrupt, virtuous, good, ethical, moral
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • 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’
      • ‘It is high time that all concerned get off their horse and do the decent thing in the interest of the people.’
      • ‘You should do the decent thing and resign with immediate effect.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Joanna gets pregnant and Steve does the decent thing; he marries her.’
      • ‘Everyone makes mistakes and when they do, responsible media outlets do the decent thing and retract, apologise and pay damages if necessary.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

decent

/ˈdēs(ə)nt//ˈdis(ə)nt/