Definition of honest in English:

honest

adjective

  • 1Free of deceit; truthful and sincere:

    ‘I haven't been totally honest with you’
    • ‘I could trot out the usual arguments about how free and honest debate ultimately makes a party stronger, but I'm not sure I believe them any more.’
    • ‘This book contains an emotionally riveting, devastatingly honest, and morally compelling answer.’
    • ‘Answers are rarely forthcoming that can be said to be totally honest, sincere, and clearly unambiguous.’
    • ‘In his dealings with parents he was always approachable, sincere and honest.’
    • ‘In general, focus group discussions consisted of honest, open and frank opinions of what the students thought about the class.’
    • ‘Harley shrugged, but then decided to give her his honest, sincere reply.’
    • ‘Remember, your compliments must be honest, sincere and genuine.’
    • ‘Pedro Almodóvar said recently that he considers himself more honest and sincere and clear in his movies than he is in real life.’
    • ‘They both are very direct men, they both are very honest and sincere men and they both are men who don't mince their words.’
    • ‘It is becoming hard to find genuinely honest and readable accounts of football.’
    • ‘As an independent organisation we offer the frank, robust and honest opinions of supporters.’
    • ‘He appeared so sincere, so honest, yet I couldn't hold any sympathy for him.’
    • ‘He encouraged a free press and honest debate in Parliament and welcomed nationwide participation in the political process.’
    • ‘For a transaction of this magnitude to be successful, all parties involved must be honest, sincere and truthful to one another.’
    • ‘Len tilted his head and looked at me, looking sincere and honest.’
    • ‘But one feels that the portrayal is honest and sincere (as Pasolini's were, for that matter).’
    • ‘Hornish also can rely on his father's experience and honest, straightforward opinions.’
    • ‘We would like to thank all the students who gave us honest and sincere information on a broad range of issues in their lives.’
    • ‘As a Republican, I sincerely thank you for your honest, open, sincere and thoughtful dialogue.’
    • ‘Unfortunately these two characters are unable to take it any further, they can't be intimate or truthful or completely honest and open about their lives.’
    • ‘Even unusually honest journalists are not free of faults.’
    objective, impartial, unbiased, balanced, unprejudiced, disinterested, even-handed, fair, just, equitable
    truthful, sincere, candid, frank, direct, open, forthright, straight, straightforward, genuine, blunt, plain-spoken, plain-speaking, matter-of-fact, outspoken, as straight as a die, straight from the shoulder
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    1. 1.1 Morally correct or virtuous:
      ‘I did the only right and honest thing’
      • ‘However, if the person has shown himself to be reliable, trustworthy, and honest, you can be far more confident that he will keep his word.’
      • ‘‘From the beginning we have been asking for fair and honest elections,’ he said.’
      • ‘But, you also have been seen as ethical, trustworthy and honest.’
      • ‘You need to be educated, hard working and honest.’
      • ‘Paddy was a peaceful, decent, law-abiding and honest citizen.’
      • ‘You're honest, reliable, trustworthy, intelligent, and very handsome as well.’
      • ‘The successful applicants must be experienced, honest, hard working, efficient and enthusiastic.’
      • ‘I believe that only a truly even-handed approach can lead to an honest, morally convincing, and effective human rights policy.’
      • ‘Candidates are generally good, honest, sincere people who want to make the world a better place.’
      • ‘Those that know him can attest that he is reliable, trustworthy, and honest.’
      • ‘The vast majority of postal workers are decent, honest, law-abiding people.’
      • ‘What is forgotten in most of the talk about litter on our streets and indiscriminate dumping is that it is the law-abiding, honest and upright members of the community that have to pay to have it cleaned up.’
      • ‘He had a reputation of being ‘a reliable, honest and tactful official’.’
      • ‘Mick had a life of hard work and honest endeavour.’
      • ‘Poverty is by no means something to be looked down upon, especially when one is earning a living through honest labour.’
      • ‘Eschewing all the modern panoply of medical and technical assistance, Harrison believed in honest hard graft as his road to the top.’
      • ‘There is nothing to be feared from honest, free, two-way trade.’
      • ‘I wonder which is the more honest way to earn a living?’
      • ‘He was decent, honest, trustworthy, and quite handsome.’
      • ‘Indeed those elections were neither fair nor honest; they were regimented and tightly controlled.’
      • ‘There are many thousands of good, decent, honest, unemployed people who are law-abiding and that never ever broke the law in their lives.’
      • ‘And why should a person doing an honest day's hard work have to stand in line after hours for a handout in order to eat or pay rent?’
      • ‘They often needed a greater amount of working capital to pay wages or purchase raw materials, which depended on a reputation for trustworthiness and honest dealing.’
      • ‘All but four members of the commission said that the last election was fair and honest.’
      • ‘References attached to the form described him as ‘reliable, honest and trustworthy’.’
      morally correct, upright, honourable, moral, ethical, principled, righteous, right-minded, respectable
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    2. 1.2[attributive] Fairly earned, especially through hard work:
      ‘he's struggling to make an honest living’
      • ‘Guru Nanak also taught his Sikhs the great value of earning an honest living.’
      • ‘We are trying to earn an honest dollar.’
      • ‘All the refugees on the project's books have one thing in common - a desire to get a job and earn an honest living.’
      • ‘Basil's percussion playing is almost a permanent fixture in the mall and he sticks to his task of earning an honest dollar with zeal.’
      • ‘He'll just have to earn an honest living when he grows up.’
      • ‘Workers, often women, take risks to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘Practitioners lead normal family lives, work hard for honest pay and aim to behave as good people in all situations and circumstances.’
      • ‘It is about the inability of the poor people in such situations of social instability and violence to earn an honest day's wage and thus going to bed hungry.’
      • ‘They are struggling to earn an honest living in this capital, the same as the rest of us.’
      • ‘For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear.’
      • ‘And the woman draws herself up and delivers a stirring dialogue on her right to stay there and earn an honest living.’
      • ‘She was always under the delusion that Edward was earning an honest living in London, and I never had the heart to tell her the truth.’
      • ‘You can tolerate the hawkers for trying to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘Kelly later claimed that he was constantly provoked by the police and prevented from earning an honest living.’
      • ‘Big oil is not to blame if governments and insurgents refuse to put down the guns and start earning an honest wage.’
      • ‘On this walk I did see moving examples of small-scale entrepreneurs trying to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘These are innocent people just trying to earn an honest living, but who end up the real victims.’
      • ‘During this period he is urged to earn an honest living and follow righteousness.’
      • ‘It's a perfect example of how conservative elites are out of touch with the reality of people who do earn an honest living.’
      • ‘Like many other Sikh Americans, Amric Singh, wants to earn an honest living while helping his surrounding community.’
    3. 1.3 (of an action) done with good intentions even if unsuccessful or misguided:
      ‘he'd made an honest mistake’
      • ‘Bob's position was an honest attempt to achieve something real.’
      • ‘Sure, it might startle you a bit - it's not something you might have expected - but there's no point in getting your back up over something which is an honest mistake.’
      • ‘Defending, Andrew Stranex suggested that the 13-year-old boy had made an honest mistake over the robber's identity.’
      • ‘The idea that this was an honest mistake, as he now claims, is ridiculous.’
      • ‘However, as Justice Young's judgement makes clear, there was much worse than an honest mistake involved in the police decision to search my house.’
      • ‘Unlike my colleagues, I think this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘The forums were honest, objective attempts to address the facts, and they have succeeded beyond our expectations.’
      • ‘He described the episode last summer as ‘an honest mistake.’’
      • ‘I knew at the time that it could not have been an honest mistake but at Shirley's trial that was not the issue.’
      • ‘But at least it had the benefit of honest if misguided passion.’
      • ‘It's an honest mistake and an assumption we've all made I'm sure.’
      • ‘My flirtation with him was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘For that reason, I do not believe this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘In most circumstances, they are honest mistakes made by writers and editors under the pressures of strict deadlines and unrelenting workloads.’
      • ‘The Progressive Democrat leader said the proposal was a fair and honest attempt to deal with the issue and she was disappointed it did not receive a broad consensus of support.’
      • ‘Doesn't this show that it might just be an honest mistake?’
      • ‘The play explores children's honest if naive attempts to reconcile conflicts between rules of peer friendship and the expectations of parents.’
      • ‘I think it was an honest and reasonable mistake for them to make at the time.’
      • ‘‘The report imposed on the BBC a punishment far out of proportion to its or my mistakes, which were honest ones,’ he said.’
      • ‘It's one thing to cheat and one thing to make an honest mistake, especially when everybody watching on TV knew that they had mixed up their score cards.’
      genuine, real, authentic, actual, true
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    4. 1.4[attributive] Simple, unpretentious, and unsophisticated:
      ‘good honest food with no gimmicks’
      • ‘It proves that the best food is honest food, made to uncomplicated recipes using the best ingredients.’
      • ‘That, though, was the only real grumble with a meal which may not win many culinary awards, but which represents good, honest weekday food served in a bustling yet relaxed environment.’
      • ‘I'm partial to having fish filleted before me, but a good, simple, honest pan of crêpes Suzette is tough to beat.’
      • ‘It's an honest, decent and unpretentious golf course.’
      • ‘Central to this lifestyle is authentic and honest food and wine.’
      • ‘One longs for simpler, more honest fare - something she appears quite capable of producing.’
      • ‘It is a simple, delicate, honest piece of work that strikes so many chords it could almost be music itself.’
      • ‘I love to eat as much as the next guy, but I also love simplicity - honest food that nourishes, that lets ingredients speak for themselves.’
      • ‘It is a humble but honest place, with food more hearty than fancy, and prices appealing to mere mortals and theatrical luminaries alike.’
      • ‘It is an honest, simple pie, and we extol its simplicities.’
      • ‘In all the nostalgic celebrations, the impression is inevitably created that blues is some kind of touchstone for a simpler and more honest past: feel-good music for white people.’
      • ‘I think his food got a bit poncey at one point but now, at his new place, he is doing my style of food - real honest food at good prices.’
      plain, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, without ornament, without ornamentation, unelaborate, unpretentious, unostentatious, unfussy, no-nonsense, basic, modest, unsophisticated, penny plain, without frills, homely, homespun, everyday, workaday
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adverb

informal
  • Used to persuade someone of the truth of something:

    ‘you'll like it when you get there, honest’
    • ‘I've been neglecting my journal but I'm determined to try harder, honest.’

Phrases

  • earn (or turn) an honest penny

    • Earn money fairly.

      • ‘They are a prime example, having never earned an honest penny in their miserable lives.’
      • ‘Shakespeare, Scott, Austen etc were primarily concerned with turning an honest penny, and probably didn't care what the critics thought as long as the public bought the books or theatre tickets.’
      • ‘As a rule they were conducted by enterprising men who were not only anxious to turn an honest penny, but to serve the best interests of the people as well.’
      • ‘However, it was his proud boast that he was seldom out of work and was prepared to do almost anything that would earn an honest penny.’
      • ‘‘I regret that I did not publish them myself and turn an honest penny,’ he complained.’
      • ‘They apologised for being out at Christmas; they knew that Whitsun was the proper time, but work was slack and they thought there would be no harm in earning an honest penny.’
      • ‘The only offer he got was from a fellow-lodger, a young man who earned an honest penny by playing a tin whistle on the streets.’
      • ‘But she said nothing about Mrs. Moore, and I supposed she'd be the usual bustling country housewife who takes in boarders to earn an honest penny.’
      • ‘I very well could have kept turning an honest penny by teaching Greek philosophy.’
      • ‘In his early years he also sold a variety of articles like accordions, concertinas and mouth-organs, costume accessories and polish - anything indeed which would turn an honest penny.’
  • make an honest woman of

    • dated, humorous Marry a woman, especially to avoid scandal if she is pregnant.

      • ‘Well, I think he should make an honest woman of her.’
      • ‘I'll just say Freddie has finally made an honest woman of Sally.’
      • ‘We've discussed this for ages, but, now, finally, Robert is going to make an honest woman of me!’
      • ‘The only thing to be done now is to make an honest woman of this dear lady.’
      • ‘Have you been putting off making an honest woman of your partner?’
      • ‘I hear you're making an honest woman of my sister.’
      • ‘When asked why he'd taken so long to make an honest woman of his girlfriend, Ron joked that he ‘hadn't had enough time to ask her.’’
      • ‘A source close to the couple recently revealed: ‘David's really keen to make an honest woman of Catherine - they've never talked about their relationship in public but they definitely see a long future together.’’
      • ‘Paula and Peter grew inseparable, and courted for years, before Peter finally made an honest woman of her.’
      • ‘Alex is attempting to make an honest woman out of me.’
      • ‘He said it was time he made an honest woman of Joanna.’
      be married to, get married to, marry, be wed to, take as one's husband, take as one's wife, lead to the altar
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  • to be honest

    • Speaking frankly:

      ‘to be honest, I expected to play worse’
      • ‘‘To be honest it was all just about money,’ he said.’
      • ‘It could've been a lot better, to be honest, but it was easily the most interesting thing on the box.’
      • ‘I'd never been in one before, and to be honest, I didn't have a clue what you were meant to do.’
      • ‘I get involved in spite of myself and, to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.’
      • ‘I never really thought it would happen and, to be honest, I still don't think it will.’
      • ‘It's about an hour after the game and I'm still in a state of shock, to be honest.’
      • ‘We all had big plans but, to be honest, how many people know what they want to be when they are 15?’
      • ‘To be honest, it was hard for me to understand why people wanted me to hold the exhibition.’
      • ‘‘To be honest I had forgotten all about it,’ said Mr Pedley.’
      • ‘It was always good fun and, to be honest, felt more like a party game than anything difficult.’
      • ‘Now I notice that every other car in the car park is silver and, to be honest, I hate the colour.’
      • ‘I was not on my best form and, to be honest, all that really interested me was the prospect of food.’
      • ‘I could do with saving the money that I would have spent on the train fare, to be honest.’
      • ‘To say I broke my foot playing football is, to be honest, stretching the truth somewhat.’
      truthfully, really, truly, actually, to be honest, to tell you the truth, to be frank, speaking truthfully, speaking frankly, in all honesty, in all sincerity, in plain language, in plain english
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Origin

Middle English (originally in the sense ‘held in or deserving of honour’): via Old French from Latin honestus, from honos (see honour).

Pronunciation:

honest

/ˈɒnɪst/