Descent, Decent, and Dissent

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Descent, Decent, and Dissent

What are the differences between "descent," "decent," and "dissent"?
  • "Descent" means going downwards, a downward slope, or ancestry.
  • "Decent" means civilized, good, or adequate.
  • "Dissent" means to argue or a difference of opinion.
descent, decent, or dissent?

More about "Descent," "Decent," and "Dissent"

There is often confusion over the words "descent," "decent," and "dissent." They sound similar, but their meanings are quite different.

Descent

The noun "descent" has three main meanings:

(1) The action of descending (i.e., going downwards).
  • The Boeing 737 started its descent from 20,000 feet.
(2) A downhill incline.
  • It features a long, steep descent that is ideal for advanced skiers.
(3) Family origin.
  • She is from Indian descent.

Decent

The adjective "decent" means civilized, good, or adequate. (It rhymes with "recent.")

Example sentences with "decent":
  • Ninety-eight percent of the adults here are decent, hard-working citizens.
  • That's a decent plate of food.

Dissent

"Dissent" can be a noun meaning "difference of opinion" or a verb meaning "to disagree."

Example sentences with "dissent":
  • The referee has given him a red card for dissent.
  • Acceptance of dissent is the fundamental requirement of a free society.
  • I will dissent if you continue with this course of action.
  • (Dissent is a verb in this example.)
Remembering "Decent"


"Decent" rhymes with "recent."

Native English speakers always pronounce these words correctly. Confusion only occurs in writing. Therefore, if you remember that "decent" rhymes with "recent" (which is logical considering they share the same last five letters), you will succeed in differentiating between "decent" and "descent."

Remembering "Dissent"

The street word to diss (deriving from disrespect) is close in meaning to "to dissent" (which means "to disagree"). Therefore, the first four letters of "dissent" can remind you of its meaning.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words