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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.