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can someone tell me the difference between 'etiquette' and 'protocol and decorum''? On Oxford Dictionary they appear as synonyms to each other. There were definitive explanations of how they differ from one another online either. Can someone explain elaborately how the words differ? (ELI5 if possible).

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They all mean following a prescribed set of norms, but of the three "protocol" has the least connotations beyond that. So if you want to convey the sense of following the rules for no other reason that those are the rules, then "protocol" is best. It also has more of a connotation of a proper process to be followed. For instance, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace follows a particular protocol. "Protocol" is more about what to do. "Decorum" is more what not to do, and "etiquette" is a mixture of things to do and things not to do.

"Etiquette" has more of an intersection with "politeness" and "kindness": it is a set of rules that is directed towards making things better for people in general. So, for instance, picking up after your dog is good etiquette. Etiquette is a mixture of rules for the sake of rules and rules that are motivated by care for other people.

"Decorum" refers to "propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance" and "ORDERLINESS" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decorum). It has connotations of remaining calm and not doing anything that society perceives as indecent.

Also, "protocol" and "etiquette" refer more to the rules themselves, whereas "decorum" refers more to the state of those rules being followed. So, for instance, shouting in a courtroom would violate etiquette, and disturb the decorum of the court.

  • So 'etiquette' is like ,rules (things to do and not to do) in the context of interaction with people. 'Protocol' is like , rules overall. And 'Decorum' is just (1)good manners that must be followed in during an interaction with a people and (20 decency that's exhibited by attire/beahviour etc?. It seems like etiquette and decorum overlaps still. I saw oxford dictionary putting 'etiquette' as a meaning for 'decorum'. Sorry for the extra query I'm just trying confirm if I got it right since english isn't my first language. – Rum Nov 27 '18 at 17:11

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