• decorous •
de-kor-rês, dê-kor-rês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Exhibiting decorum, conforming to standards of propriety and good taste, appropriately proper, polite, seemly.
Notes: This word is the adjective that tags along with the noun decorum. Decorum has a clunkier synonym, decorousness, which we recommend you avoid. If you need the opposite sense, "in bad taste", just add the prefix in- and you have it: indecorous.
In Play: Decorum is usually associated with the upper classes, especially the British nobility; "Charles III will soon be crowned in a most decorous ceremony in Westminster Abbey." Its applications are not limited to upper classes, though: "Ever decorous, Anne Howe always excuses herself to another room rather than allow a guest to see her blowing her nose."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken directly from Latin decorus "becoming, seemly, proper", the neuter of which is decorum, used in English and Latin as a noun. English speakers just added an O to decorus. This adjective was based on decus (genitive decoris) "ornament", which explains how the same word can underlie decorate. Latin built its word on PIE dek-/dok- "to take, accept, observe a custom", source also of Sanskrit dasasyati "venerates (a god), is gracious", Greek dekhesthai "take in, accept", and Latin dignus "worthy, proper" and its noun dignitas "worthiness", whence English dignity. In Old French this word was reduced to deintie "value, delicacy, pleasure". Middle English snatched this word from Old French and converted it to dainty.
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