can·​did ˈkan-dəd How to pronounce candid (audio)
: marked by honest sincere expression
a candid discussion
: disposed to criticize severely : blunt
candid critics
: indicating or suggesting sincere honesty and absence of deception
her candid face
: free from bias, prejudice, or malice : fair
a candid observer
: relating to or being photography of subjects acting naturally or spontaneously without being posed
candid photos of the family at play
: white
candid flames
candidly adverb
candidness noun

Did you know?

The Many Shades of Candid

It is interesting that candid, which has the original meaning in English of “white,” should have so many colors of meaning. The word comes from the French candide, which is from the Latin candidus (“bright, white”). Candid is not often used to mean “white” these days, and has shed another of its older meanings, “clear, pure.” Many of its current meanings are concerned with forms of honesty and forthrightness. It may refer to the indication or suggestion of sincere honesty (“her candid eyes”), or to something being marked by honest expression (“a candid talk”). However, it also carries the meaning of bluntness (or “disposed to criticize severely”), as well as “free from bias, prejudice, or malice.” The most recent sense it has taken on is in the vocabulary of photography: “relating to or being photography of subjects acting naturally or spontaneously without being posed.”

Choose the Right Synonym for candid

frank, candid, open, plain mean showing willingness to tell what one feels or thinks.

frank stresses lack of shyness or secretiveness or of evasiveness from considerations of tact or expedience.

frank discussions

candid suggests expression marked by sincerity and honesty especially in offering unwelcome criticism or opinion.

a candid appraisal

open implies frankness but suggests more indiscretion than frank and less earnestness than candid.

open in saying what they think

plain suggests outspokenness and freedom from affectation or subtlety in expression.

plain talk

Examples of candid in a Sentence

If Bart Knaggs had been totally candid, he would have told me that when his prospective father-in-law, who was a doctor, had heard that the cancer had moved into my lungs, he said to Bart, "Well, your friend is dead." Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike, (2000) 2001
To be candid, I have wondered whether it is fair to write about a man for whom I cannot help but feel a real distaste. Jill Lepore, Journal of American History, June 2001
There are candid … anecdotes of open-heart surgery. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review, 30 Sept. 1990
He was quite candid about his past. She gave us her candid opinion on the matter.
Recent Examples on the Web Archival footage, dramatized vignettes and Morris’ expert interviewing skills allow viewers to see and hear the late spy and author in a very candid light. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 11 Sep. 2023 Being candid about your position and actively listening to the responses will encourage your employee to do likewise. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 When the conversation made its way to the challenges facing creatives, Oscar winner Kaufman got candid about the state of affairs and seemed exasperated in the process. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Sep. 2023 These sessions should ideally be run by a neutral party to encourage candid conversation and, with participant consent, be recorded for later analysis. Gleb Tsipursky, Fortune, 5 Sep. 2023 What follows is what How To always did best: the sort of candid, deeply emotional conversation that made all the series’ digressions and quirkiness feel like part of something more than just a silly parody of how-to videos. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 2 Sep. 2023 The Spider-Man actor posted an Instagram Story, featuring a candid shot of Zendaya about to scuba dive. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 1 Sep. 2023 While reflecting on some of her past fashion looks during a recent interview with Access Hollywood’s Kit Hoover, Simpson got candid about the ongoing scrutiny she's faced for her weight changes. USA TODAY, 29 Aug. 2023 Kyle Richards is getting candid about how she's been handling her public separation from Mauricio Umansky. Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'candid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French & Latin; French candide, from Latin candidus bright, white, from candēre to shine, glow; akin to Welsh can white, Sanskrit candati it shines

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of candid was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near candid

Cite this Entry

“Candid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


can·​did ˈkan-dəd How to pronounce candid (audio)
: marked by or showing sincere honesty : frank
: relating to photography of people acting naturally without being posed
candid picture
candidly adverb
candidness noun

from French candide "white" and Latin candidus "white, bright," from Latin candēre "to shine, be bright" — related to candidate, candle see Word History at candidate

More from Merriam-Webster on candid

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