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From Latin decentia, from decens. Compare French décence. See decent.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈdiːsənsi/
    • (file)


decency (countable and uncountable, plural decencies)

  1. The quality of being decent; propriety.
    • 1684, Wentworth Dillon, An Essay on Translated Verse:
      Immodest words admit of no defence, / For want of decency is want of sense.
    • 1757 (date written), [Edmund Burke], “Introduction. On Taste.”, in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 2nd edition, London: [] R[obert] and J[ames] Dodsley, [], published 1759, OCLC 1102744348, part, page 30:
      Indeed it is for the moſt part in our ſkill in manners, and in the obſervances of time and place, and of decency in general, which is only to be learned in thoſe ſchools to which Horace recommends us, that what is called Taſte by way of diſtinction, conſiſts; and which is in reality no other than a more refined judgment.
    • 1954 Joseph N. Welch, June
      Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
    • 2016, Tim Carvell; Josh Gondelman; Dan Gurewitch; Jeff Maurer; Ben Silva; Will Tracy; Jill Twiss; Seena Vali; Julie Weiner, “Journalism”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 3, episode 20, HBO, Warner Bros. Television:
      Now, what is interesting about that poem is nothing. But, what is relevant about it is that his muse is his wife, Marcela, who is 42 years younger than him. He is 75, she is 33. And I’ll say this, at least when 70-something American politicians get creepily handsy with 30-something women, they have the decency to do so with their own daughters. Have some class, Brazil! Have some class!
  2. That which is proper or becoming.


Further reading[edit]