Definition of honest in English:



  • 1Free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.

    ‘I haven't been totally honest with you’
    • ‘Answers are rarely forthcoming that can be said to be totally honest, sincere, and clearly unambiguous.’
    • ‘We would like to thank all the students who gave us honest and sincere information on a broad range of issues in their lives.’
    • ‘This book contains an emotionally riveting, devastatingly honest, and morally compelling answer.’
    • ‘Even unusually honest journalists are not free of faults.’
    • ‘But one feels that the portrayal is honest and sincere (as Pasolini's were, for that matter).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In general, focus group discussions consisted of honest, open and frank opinions of what the students thought about the class.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Harley shrugged, but then decided to give her his honest, sincere reply.’
    • ‘It is becoming hard to find genuinely honest and readable accounts of football.’
    • ‘Remember, your compliments must be honest, sincere and genuine.’
    • ‘As a Republican, I sincerely thank you for your honest, open, sincere and thoughtful dialogue.’
    • ‘In his dealings with parents he was always approachable, sincere and honest.’
    • ‘He encouraged a free press and honest debate in Parliament and welcomed nationwide participation in the political process.’
    • ‘He appeared so sincere, so honest, yet I couldn't hold any sympathy for him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Pedro Almodóvar said recently that he considers himself more honest and sincere and clear in his movies than he is in real life.’
    • ‘For a transaction of this magnitude to be successful, all parties involved must be honest, sincere and truthful to one another.’
    • ‘Hornish also can rely on his father's experience and honest, straightforward opinions.’
    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
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    1. 1.1Morally correct or virtuous.
      ‘I did the only right and honest thing’
      • ‘But, you also have been seen as ethical, trustworthy and honest.’
      • ‘Paddy was a peaceful, decent, law-abiding and honest citizen.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are many thousands of good, decent, honest, unemployed people who are law-abiding and that never ever broke the law in their lives.’
      • ‘Those that know him can attest that he is reliable, trustworthy, and honest.’
      • ‘The successful applicants must be experienced, honest, hard working, efficient and enthusiastic.’
      • ‘There is nothing to be feared from honest, free, two-way trade.’
      • ‘Indeed those elections were neither fair nor honest; they were regimented and tightly controlled.’
      • ‘I believe that only a truly even-handed approach can lead to an honest, morally convincing, and effective human rights policy.’
      • ‘All but four members of the commission said that the last election was fair and honest.’
      • ‘You need to be educated, hard working and honest.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mick had a life of hard work and honest endeavour.’
      • ‘Eschewing all the modern panoply of medical and technical assistance, Harrison believed in honest hard graft as his road to the top.’
      • ‘You're honest, reliable, trustworthy, intelligent, and very handsome as well.’
      • ‘I wonder which is the more honest way to earn a living?’
      • ‘References attached to the form described him as ‘reliable, honest and trustworthy’.’
      • ‘Candidates are generally good, honest, sincere people who want to make the world a better place.’
      • ‘Poverty is by no means something to be looked down upon, especially when one is earning a living through honest labour.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The vast majority of postal workers are decent, honest, law-abiding people.’
      • ‘He was decent, honest, trustworthy, and quite handsome.’
      • ‘He had a reputation of being ‘a reliable, honest and tactful official’.’
      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.
      ‘struggling to make an honest living’
      • ‘Guru Nanak also taught his Sikhs the great value of earning an honest living.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Practitioners lead normal family lives, work hard for honest pay and aim to behave as good people in all situations and circumstances.’
      • ‘It's a perfect example of how conservative elites are out of touch with the reality of people who do 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.’
      • ‘During this period he is urged to earn an honest living and follow righteousness.’
      • ‘Workers, often women, take risks to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘We are trying to earn an honest dollar.’
      • ‘You can tolerate the hawkers for trying 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like many other Sikh Americans, Amric Singh, wants to earn an honest living while helping his surrounding community.’
      • ‘On this walk I did see moving examples of small-scale entrepreneurs trying to earn an honest living.’
      • ‘For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear.’
      • ‘Kelly later claimed that he was constantly provoked by the police and prevented from earning an honest living.’
      • ‘These are innocent people just trying to earn an honest living, but who end up the real victims.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He'll just have to earn an honest living when he grows up.’
      • ‘All the refugees on the project's books have one thing in common - a desire to get a job and earn an honest living.’
    3. 1.3(of an action) blameless or well intentioned even if unsuccessful or misguided.
      ‘he'd made an honest mistake’
      • ‘Defending, Andrew Stranex suggested that the 13-year-old boy had made an honest mistake over the robber's identity.’
      • ‘Bob's position was an honest attempt to achieve something real.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In most circumstances, they are honest mistakes made by writers and editors under the pressures of strict deadlines and unrelenting workloads.’
      • ‘I think it was an honest and reasonable mistake for them to make at the time.’
      • ‘Unlike my colleagues, I think this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘For that reason, I do not believe this was an honest mistake.’
      • ‘It's an honest mistake and an assumption we've all made I'm sure.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘The report imposed on the BBC a punishment far out of proportion to its or my mistakes, which were honest ones,’ he said.’
      • ‘Doesn't this show that it might just be 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.’
      • ‘My flirtation with him was 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.’
      • ‘The idea that this was an honest mistake, as he now claims, is ridiculous.’
      • ‘The play explores children's honest if naive attempts to reconcile conflicts between rules of peer friendship and the expectations of parents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He described the episode last summer as ‘an honest mistake.’’
      • ‘But at least it had the benefit of honest if misguided passion.’
      genuine, real, authentic, actual, true
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    4. 1.4[attributive]Simple, unpretentious, and unsophisticated.
      ‘good honest food with no gimmicks’
      • ‘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 an honest, simple pie, and we extol its simplicities.’
      • ‘It's an honest, decent and unpretentious golf course.’
      • ‘It is a simple, delicate, honest piece of work that strikes so many chords it could almost be music itself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Central to this lifestyle is authentic and honest food and wine.’
      • ‘I'm partial to having fish filleted before me, but a good, simple, honest pan of crêpes Suzette is tough to beat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a humble but honest place, with food more hearty than fancy, and prices appealing to mere mortals and theatrical luminaries alike.’
      • ‘It proves that the best food is honest food, made to uncomplicated recipes using the best ingredients.’
      • ‘One longs for simpler, more honest fare - something she appears quite capable of producing.’
      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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  • [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.’


  • make an honest woman of

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

      • ‘We've discussed this for ages, but, now, finally, Robert is going to make an honest woman of me!’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘I'll just say Freddie has finally made an honest woman of Sally.’
      • ‘Paula and Peter grew inseparable, and courted for years, before Peter finally made an honest woman of her.’
      • ‘Well, I think he should make 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.’
      • ‘I hear you're making an honest woman of my sister.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’’
      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’
      • ‘I could do with saving the money that I would have spent on the train fare, to be honest.’
      • ‘‘To be honest it was all just about money,’ he said.’
      • ‘‘To be honest I had forgotten all about it,’ said Mr Pedley.’
      • ‘Now I notice that every other car in the car park is silver and, to be honest, I hate the colour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To be honest, it was hard for me to understand why people wanted me to hold the exhibition.’
      • ‘It was always good fun and, to be honest, felt more like a party game than anything difficult.’
      • ‘I never really thought it would happen and, to be honest, I still don't think it will.’
      • ‘To say I broke my foot playing football is, to be honest, stretching the truth somewhat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We all had big plans but, to be honest, how many people know what they want to be when they are 15?’
      • ‘I was not on my best form and, to be honest, all that really interested me was the prospect of food.’
      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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Middle English (originally in the sense held in or deserving of honor): via Old French from Latin honestus, from honos (see honor).