What does Decorum stand for?

The etymological root of decorum is found in the Latin language : decōrum. This is called, depending on the context, respect, honor, modesty or circumspection.

For example: “The president should have the decorum to resign due to his evident inability to guarantee the peace of the nation”, “The lack of decorum of the actor surprised the public”, “For decorum, you should cover yourself before entering a church”.

The idea of ​​decorum is usually used with respect to the limits set by social norms on what is considered correct or appropriate in a given situation. Who does not act according to these precepts, has no decorum.

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Many times decorum is linked to dress (or lack of it). Social conventions indicate that a man should not go to his wedding in a bathing suit, to cite one case. According to the principles of many cultures, on the other hand, a woman should not display her breasts in public out of propriety.

Decorum is also called the minimum level of quality of life that a person must have to maintain their dignity, that is, so that it is not threatened by lack of resources: “I don’t have too much money, but at least I can support myself with decorum”, “With such a low salary it is impossible to live with decorum”.

The dictionary prepared by the Royal Spanish Academy offers us other meanings that extend the range of this term. For example, it tells us that it represents the respect or reverence that we owe to someone because of her dignity or birth. It also offers us synonyms such as honesty, purity, seriousness, honor and esteem.

In the field of architecture, decorum is the part that focuses on each building receiving the appearance and property that are appropriate for its intended use. Needless to say, it is an essential concept, which we can appreciate in everyday life when passing in front of any building, since in its construction we notice issues related to its functions, the purpose for which it has been created.

For rhetoric, the term decorum is defined as the process that consists of adapting the language of a work to the literary genre that corresponds to it, as well as to the condition of its characters and its theme. Rhetoric is the group of principles or rules that refer to the art of speaking or writing elegantly and with enough correctness to move, persuade or please the interlocutor.

Within literary theory, on the other hand, we speak of decorum to refer to the conformity that exists or should exist between the way in which the characters of a given work behave and their respective conditions.

The expression ” keep decorum ” can be defined as “behaving according to the social status that corresponds to us”; if an indirect object or a direct object is added, to someone or something, then it means «to correspond to the merit or the estimation of a person or thing with words or acts. In the past, the term decorum was used as a synonym for the adjective “decorous”; at present, however, the latter is preferred.

Decorum, finally, is a conjugation of the verb to decorate. It is the first person singular (I) of the Present tense of the Indicative mood. Let’s see some example sentences: “If you agree, I decorate the dining room and bathroom and you take care of the kitchen and bedrooms”, “How do I decorate the house without spending a lot of money?” , “If I decorate the apartment in the holidays, I will not have time to rest”.