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    #1

    Question The word "decent"

    Hello all, I'm new to the forum so i'm not sure if you can help me. Throughout my life (I'm 19) I've heard the word "decent" being used the same way as "not bad", and while it wasn't negative per se, it was never a compliment. Recently, however, i've been seeing the word being used (in what I believe is a form of slang) interchangeably with "good" and "nice". For example, I am a hip-hop producer. Just recently, uploaded one of my beats online, and I received a comment from someone saying "Damn, those drums are decentttt". I was confused, because it sounded like he was praising them, but he was using the word decent. All I want know: Is the word decent used differently in slang? Or is this nonsense?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The word "decent"

    Welcome to the forum.

    According to The Urban Dictionary (my first port of call for slang terms), it means "good". See HERE.

    (Please remember to capitalise "I" for the first person singular each time you write it. You used a lower case "i" twice in your post. Remember that, as a native English speaker, learners on this site will assume everything you write is correct.)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: The word "decent"

    Slang often uses words to mean the opposite of the dictionary definition (bad & wicked) or changes the emphasis of a word, so a word that denotes the middle could take on an extreme meaning, which is the case here.

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    #4

    Re: The word "decent"

    To be clear, you are correct in your belief about "decent". It means good, adequate, passable, ok, not bad...

    The example you give about different usage indicating a "better quality" doesn't exactly surprise me. There seems to be a drive to redefine so many words. It could be such a culturally driven thing, though I suspect that it not so in this case.

    Honestly, with the horrid level of literacy these days, it may be simply ignorance on the part of the speakers; quite possibly they don't really understand the correct usage of the word. I'm no expert on "modern slang", but what I've seen suggests that opposites are generally the preferred alternative. Like Tdol said, "Wicked" = great, amazing. "Sick" has a similar meaning. "Bad" is good. Then there are things like "phat" which means cool or hot...

    But the usage you describe doesn't seem to match the patter; usually a negative meaning flipped to indicate a positive one.

    Decent is rather neutral, really. Not especially good, but not bad either. Just ok, acceptable, adequate...

    I wouldn't be in a hurry to emulate those people

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    #5

    Re: The word "decent"

    I am not a teacher.

    Given the context you provided, the word "decent" should probably be taken to mean "great." In other words, the commenter really liked the sound of the drums.

    It is common in American and Canadian English to use understatements to give high praise. Many phrases that normally convey lukewarm feelings about something can be used idiomatically in this way. Other examples:

    "That will work."

    "Not bad at all."

    Both of the above literally mean "good enough" or "passable" but in a context like the one provided, the idiomatic meaning is "great" or "excellent."

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    #6

    Re: The word "decent"

    The same is true of BrE, and you could add That will do to that list.

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