9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dee-suh nt] /ˈdi sənt/
conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc., as in behavior or speech.
respectable; worthy:
a decent family.
adequate; fair; passable:
a decent wage.
kind; obliging; generous:
It was very decent of him to lend me his watch.
suitable; appropriate:
She did not have a decent coat for the cold winter.
of fairly attractive appearance:
a decent face.
Informal. wearing enough clothing to appear in public.
Slang. great; wonderful.
Origin of decent
1485-95; < Latin decent- (stem of decēns) fitting (present participle of decēre to be fitting; see -ent), akin to decus honor
Related forms
decently, adverb
decentness, noun
Can be confused
decent, descent, dissent.
1. seemly, proper, decorous. 5. apt, fit, becoming.
1. unseemly. 5. inappropriate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decent
  • But poor people on the planet are going to want to have a decent standard of living.
  • I've always been kind of shy, a decent listener, and not the kind of person who interrupts a lot.
  • It has a decent battery life, a huge hard drive, and roomy 16-inch display.
  • Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent.
  • And Washington fought humanely, extending quarter in battle and insisting on decent treatment of prisoners.
  • There's plenty of work to do just to bring decent rail service to the corridors where the travel demand is clearly present.
  • Although decent salsas are available, it doesn't take long to make one.
  • We make no attempt at a half-decent public-transport system.
  • We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone.
  • And the beef we get here is pretty decent; it's Maine-grown.
British Dictionary definitions for decent


polite or respectable: a decent family
proper and suitable; fitting: a decent burial
conforming to conventions of sexual behaviour; not indecent
free of oaths, blasphemy, etc: decent language
good or adequate: a decent wage
(informal) kind; generous: he was pretty decent to me
(informal) sufficiently clothed to be seen by other people: are you decent?
Derived Forms
decently, adverb
decentness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin decēns suitable, from decēre to be fitting
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decent

1530s, "proper to one's station or rank," also "tasteful," from Middle French décent, or directly from Latin decentem (nominative decens) "becoming, seemly, fitting, proper," present participle of decere "to be fitting or suitable," from PIE *deke-, from root *dek- "to take, accept, to receive, greet, be suitable" (cf. Greek dokein "to appear, seem, think," dekhesthai "to accept;" Sanskrit daśasyati "shows honor, is gracious," dacati "makes offerings, bestows;" Latin docere "to teach," decus "grace, ornament"). Meaning "kind, pleasant" is from 1902. Are you decent? (1949) was originally backstage theater jargon for "are you dressed."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for decent



Good, often very good: makes a decent living

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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