Definition of honesty in English:



  • 1The quality of being honest.

    ‘they spoke with convincing honesty about their fears’
    ‘it was not, in all honesty, an auspicious debut’
    • ‘Staff and colleagues expect a very high level of integrity and honesty in their leaders.’
    • ‘Sophie's honesty and frankness about her personal life and experiences is amazing.’
    • ‘Mr Bradshaw handed in references from a previous employer which spoke of her reliability and honesty.’
    • ‘Almost his first act as Prime Minister was to go to parliament and to address the nation with almost brutal honesty.’
    • ‘Looking up at the large, unfriendly face, McBeath decided this was not the moment for honesty.’
    • ‘Keighley people recognise that the character and honesty of the man is beyond reproach.’
    • ‘Several recent books and a documentary have questioned his honesty and integrity.’
    • ‘Moving eastwards, we come to Germany which, in all honesty, I know very little about.’
    • ‘He always seems to bring an amount of honesty to his characters that make them seem real and sincere.’
    • ‘But he will also be remembered as a man of integrity and honesty both on and off the pitch.’
    • ‘We need to rebuild on the basis not of greed but truth, honesty, integrity.’
    • ‘The consequence is that qualities such as honesty and integrity matter substantially more.’
    • ‘It is much easier to win elections by preaching hate and fear than understanding and honesty.’
    • ‘We also wish to make it clear that we have not at any stage questioned his openness or honesty as a serving officer.’
    • ‘Every person has a responsibility to behave with integrity, honesty and fairness.’
    • ‘Particularly upsetting was the fact that our integrity and honesty was being called into question.’
    • ‘Brett looked down in surprise; in all honesty, he'd forgotten that she was there.’
    • ‘How do other companies deal with people who do not act with honesty and integrity?’
    • ‘You get an openness and honesty amongst these people that you'd never see in bigger firms.’
    • ‘Systematic and methodical rather than dashing, he had a reputation for honesty and directness.’
    truthfulness, truth, sincerity, candour, frankness, directness, forthrightness, openness, straightforwardness, plainness, genuineness, bluntness, outspokenness
    moral correctness, uprightness, honourableness, honour, integrity, morals, morality, ethics, principle, nobility, righteousness, rectitude, right-mindedness, upstandingness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British Referring to or using a way of charging for goods or services that relies on the customers to leave money in an unattended receptacle even though there is no one to collect their payments.
      ‘I bought potatoes and tomatoes from the roadside stall, putting £3 in the honesty box’
      ‘there's a well-stocked honesty bar which includes local wine’
      • ‘The course is usually unmanned and collects its modest fees in an honesty box.’
      • ‘By the end of March 2004, a Summary Box (also referred to as an honesty box) containing standardised information will appear on credit card marketing literature.’
      • ‘Cold drinks and snacks are also available, payment for which should be placed in the honesty tray.’
      • ‘Similar to the Austrian newspaper, the bagels were distributed to offices in the US capital with an honesty box payment system.’
      • ‘Every week the money collected in the honesty box was totted up.’
      • ‘The bookshop where I bought my newspaper from had an " honesty box ".’
      • ‘Please give a donation for admission at the honesty box.’
      • ‘When he returned, Algie found more than $375 in an honesty box and notes from customers saying what they'd bought.’
      • ‘On the way was a trolley laden with plum jam, pickles and eggs; a selection went into the boot, a fiver into the honesty box.’
      • ‘I know the two words striking fear, at least into many departments at my company, are his honesty boxes, where these rates would have to be clearly labelled.’
      • ‘I swear to god, half the rural economy of the English countryside is based on roadside honesty boxes.’
      • ‘The honour system, with honesty boxes at each junction?’
      • ‘At the moment, if you want a game you just turn up and post your 20 fee into an old Royal Mail box which serves as an honesty box.’
      • ‘Officials said in two or three years the network will have been expanded throughout the city, further improving the city's honesty system.’
      • ‘In 2006 they worked with a village of farmers in Toge, Japan to create a sculptural honesty box at a nearby beauty spot.’
      • ‘They should just put out an honesty box and make lots of money.’
      • ‘First there was Radiohead's honesty box album with its track-stopping pay-what-you-please strategy.’
      • ‘When they are first reopened the toilets will operate with an attendant and an ' honesty box '.’
      • ‘You may also be interested in our honesty mark scheme.’
      • ‘King's experimental technique for selling The Plant on an honesty basis - fans can read the chapter before they cough up their $1-appears successful.’
  • 2A European plant with purple or white flowers and round, flat, translucent seed pods which are used for indoor flower arrangements.

    • ‘Common honesty is grown partly for its fragrant bright flowers in spring and early summer, but also for its unique oval and translucent seed-heads, much coveted by dried-flower arrangers.’
    • ‘Honesty flowers early in the year and provides nectar for early butterflies such as the orange tip.’


Middle English: from Old French honeste, from Latin honestas, from honestus (see honest). The original sense was ‘honour, respectability’, later ‘decorum, virtue, chastity’. The plant is so named from its seed pods, translucency symbolizing lack of deceit.