Definition of honest in US English:

honest

adjective

  • 1Free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.

    ‘I haven't been totally honest with you’
    • ‘As an independent organisation we offer the frank, robust and honest opinions of supporters.’
    • ‘Len tilted his head and looked at me, looking sincere and honest.’
    • ‘It is becoming hard to find genuinely honest and readable accounts of football.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We would like to thank all the students who gave us honest and sincere information on a broad range of issues in their lives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As a Republican, I sincerely thank you for your honest, open, sincere and thoughtful dialogue.’
    • ‘This book contains an emotionally riveting, devastatingly honest, and morally compelling answer.’
    • ‘Even unusually honest journalists are not free of faults.’
    • ‘In his dealings with parents he was always approachable, sincere and honest.’
    • ‘Answers are rarely forthcoming that can be said to be totally honest, sincere, and clearly unambiguous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Harley shrugged, but then decided to give her his honest, sincere reply.’
    • ‘He encouraged a free press and honest debate in Parliament and welcomed nationwide participation in the political process.’
    • ‘In general, focus group discussions consisted of honest, open and frank opinions of what the students thought about the class.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He appeared so sincere, so honest, yet I couldn't hold any sympathy for him.’
    • ‘Hornish also can rely on his father's experience and honest, straightforward opinions.’
    • ‘But one feels that the portrayal is honest and sincere (as Pasolini's were, for that matter).’
    • ‘For a transaction of this magnitude to be successful, all parties involved must be honest, sincere and truthful to one another.’
    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
    objective, impartial, unbiased, balanced, unprejudiced, disinterested, even-handed, fair, just, equitable
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Morally correct or virtuous.
      ‘I did the only right and honest thing’
      • ‘Mick had a life of hard work and honest endeavour.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘There are many thousands of good, decent, honest, unemployed people who are law-abiding and that never ever broke the law in their lives.’
      • ‘You need to be educated, hard working and honest.’
      • ‘The vast majority of postal workers are decent, honest, law-abiding people.’
      • ‘I believe that only a truly even-handed approach can lead to an honest, morally convincing, and effective human rights policy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eschewing all the modern panoply of medical and technical assistance, Harrison believed in honest hard graft as his road to the top.’
      • ‘He had a reputation of being ‘a reliable, honest and tactful official’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘References attached to the form described him as ‘reliable, honest and trustworthy’.’
      • ‘Poverty is by no means something to be looked down upon, especially when one is earning a living through honest labour.’
      • ‘‘From the beginning we have been asking for fair and honest elections,’ he said.’
      • ‘Indeed those elections were neither fair nor honest; they were regimented and tightly controlled.’
      • ‘I wonder which is the more honest way to earn a living?’
      • ‘There is nothing to be feared from honest, free, two-way trade.’
      • ‘Paddy was a peaceful, decent, law-abiding and honest citizen.’
      • ‘Those that know him can attest that he is reliable, trustworthy, and honest.’
      • ‘You're honest, reliable, trustworthy, intelligent, and very handsome as well.’
      • ‘But, you also have been seen as ethical, trustworthy and honest.’
      • ‘Candidates are generally good, honest, sincere people who want to make the world a better place.’
      • ‘All but four members of the commission said that the last election was fair and honest.’
      • ‘The successful applicants must be experienced, honest, hard working, efficient and enthusiastic.’
      • ‘He was decent, honest, trustworthy, and quite handsome.’
      • ‘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.’
      morally correct, upright, honourable, moral, ethical, principled, righteous, right-minded, respectable
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    2. 1.2attributive Fairly earned, especially through hard work.
      ‘struggling to make an honest living’
      • ‘On this walk I did see moving examples of small-scale entrepreneurs trying to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘Kelly later claimed that he was constantly provoked by the police and prevented from earning an honest living.’
      • ‘Workers, often women, take risks to earn 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.’
      • ‘Practitioners lead normal family lives, work hard for honest pay and aim to behave as good people in all situations and circumstances.’
      • ‘Guru Nanak also taught his Sikhs the great value of earning an honest living.’
      • ‘You can tolerate the hawkers for trying to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘We are trying to earn an honest dollar.’
      • ‘These are innocent people just trying to earn an honest living, but who end up the real victims.’
      • ‘They are struggling to earn an honest living in this capital, the same as the rest of us.’
      • ‘And the woman draws herself up and delivers a stirring dialogue on her right to stay there and earn an honest living.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's a perfect example of how conservative elites are out of touch with the reality of people who do 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.’
      • ‘During this period he is urged to earn an honest living and follow righteousness.’
      • ‘Like many other Sikh Americans, Amric Singh, wants to earn an honest living while helping his surrounding community.’
      • ‘All the refugees on the project's books have one thing in common - a desire to get a job and earn an honest living.’
      • ‘He'll just have to earn an honest living when he grows up.’
      • ‘For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 (of an action) blameless or well intentioned even if unsuccessful or misguided.
      ‘he'd made an honest mistake’
      • ‘For that reason, I do not believe this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘I think it was an honest and reasonable mistake for them to make at the time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The play explores children's honest if naive attempts to reconcile conflicts between rules of peer friendship and the expectations of parents.’
      • ‘Unlike my colleagues, I think this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Doesn't this show that it might just be an honest mistake?’
      • ‘But at least it had the benefit of honest if misguided passion.’
      • ‘He described the episode last summer as ‘an honest mistake.’’
      • ‘My flirtation with him was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘The forums were honest, objective attempts to address the facts, and they have succeeded beyond our expectations.’
      • ‘I knew at the time that it could not have been an honest mistake but at Shirley's trial that was not the issue.’
      • ‘Bob's position was an honest attempt to achieve something real.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘It's an honest mistake and an assumption we've all made I'm sure.’
      • ‘In most circumstances, they are honest mistakes made by writers and editors under the pressures of strict deadlines and unrelenting workloads.’
      genuine, real, authentic, actual, true
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    4. 1.4attributive 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Central to this lifestyle is authentic and honest food and wine.’
      • ‘It is an honest, simple pie, and we extol its simplicities.’
      • ‘It is a simple, delicate, honest piece of work that strikes so many chords it could almost be music itself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a humble but honest place, with food more hearty than fancy, and prices appealing to mere mortals and theatrical luminaries alike.’
      • ‘One longs for simpler, more honest fare - something she appears quite capable of producing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
  • sentence adverb 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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I very well could have kept turning an honest penny by teaching Greek philosophy.’
      • ‘‘I regret that I did not publish them myself and turn an honest penny,’ he complained.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are a prime example, having never earned an honest penny in their miserable lives.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • make an honest woman of

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

      • ‘Alex is attempting to make an honest woman out of me.’
      • ‘He said it was time he made an honest woman of Joanna.’
      • ‘I hear you're making an honest woman of my sister.’
      • ‘Well, I think he should make an honest woman of 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.’’
      • ‘We've discussed this for ages, but, now, finally, Robert is going to make an honest woman of me!’
      • ‘I'll just say Freddie has finally made an honest woman of Sally.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Paula and Peter grew inseparable, and courted for years, before Peter finally made an honest woman of her.’
      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.

      ‘I've never been much of a movie buff, to be honest’
      • ‘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 never really thought it would happen and, to be honest, I still don't think it will.’
      • ‘It was always good fun and, to be honest, felt more like a party game than anything difficult.’
      • ‘‘To be honest I had forgotten all about it,’ said Mr Pedley.’
      • ‘It's about an hour after the game and I'm still in a state of shock, to be honest.’
      • ‘I'd never been in one before, and to be honest, I didn't have a clue what you were meant to do.’
      • ‘To be honest, it was hard for me to understand why people wanted me to hold the exhibition.’
      • ‘‘To be honest it was all just about money,’ he said.’
      • ‘I get involved in spite of myself and, to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.’
      • ‘It could've been a lot better, to be honest, but it was easily the most interesting thing on the box.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We all had big plans but, to be honest, how many people know what they want to be when they are 15?’
      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 honor’): via Old French from Latin honestus, from honos (see honor).

Pronunciation

honest

/ˈänəst//ˈɑnəst/