can·​dor ˈkan-dər How to pronounce candor (audio)
: unreserved, honest, or sincere expression : forthrightness
the candor with which he acknowledged a weakness in his own caseAldous Huxley
: freedom from prejudice or malice : fairness
… a heavy accusation … from a gentleman of your talents, liberality, and candor.Noah Webster
literary : brightness, brilliance
the sun poured with a more golden candorChristoper Morley
obsolete : unstained purity
archaic : kindliness

Did you know?

Candor comes from Latin candēre, meaning "to shine or glow." That origin is reflected in the word's early uses referring to brightness or unstained purity and innocence, which are the sources of today's familiar use of candor for unquestionably honest expression.

Did you know?

Candor: It Can Be Refreshing

Candor, related to the adjective candid, refers to straightforward honesty or frankness in speech or expression. The fact that it is frequently preceded by the adjective refreshing suggests that it is often unexpected, a shift from guarded or euphemistic language:

This is perhaps the busiest and craziest time of the year for device-case maker Brian Holmes, and he told me today with refreshing candor that “I am about to lose my mind.”
Julio Ojeda-Zapata, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9 Sept. 2016

They are openly afraid of starting a family and making mistakes, and this refreshing candor between characters is what makes the show one of the best rom-coms on TV.
Julia Edelman, People, 8 Apr. 2016

Examples of candor in a Sentence

But a more subtle, and perhaps the most powerful, quality in the Senator's arsenal of attractions is an unrelenting candor that verges on self-reproach … Joe Klein, New Yorker, 17 Jan. 2002
People are human; they are fallible. I concede with painful candor and a heavy heart that the adage applies to me and to my generation of American leadership regarding Vietnam. Robert S. McNamara, In Retrospect, 1995
… thoughtful critics lamented what they designated Roosevelt's deviousness, his lack of candor Doris Kearns Goodwin, New Yorker, 15 Aug. 1994
One hardly knows which to admire more, the candor of the author or the forbearance of his wife and his buddy, who somehow manage to refrain from cuffing him smartly upside the head. Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review, 31 Mar. 1991
She spoke with candor about racism. I was impressed by the candor of his statement. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Mia discerns her father’s struggles, physical as well as mental; that Kim portrays Adam’s silent suffering with candor and compassion is itself an audacious choice. Hamilton Cain, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2023 Each movie explores, with terrible candor, the ease with which people can enter the gravitational pull of a seducer. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 4 Aug. 2023 The 43-year-old artist, born Alecia Moore, has for more than two decades been an antidote to the pep of conventional pop, using her don’t-test-me candor on and off the stage to tear down patriarchal standards and promote unabashed individualism. Sophia Solano, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2023 Red Memory aptly captures another moment of relative candor and penance, starting just before Xi’s rise to power and extending into the early years of his rule. Mary Gallagher, Foreign Affairs, 20 June 2023 Meanwhile, more famous people donated to strike funds, the guy from Heels turned heel, and Disney Channel stars spoke with candor. Vulture, 7 Aug. 2023 But O’Connor, by virtue of her fame, has often done so in an international spotlight, even at the risk of public ridicule for her unabashed candor. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 July 2023 In a series of press interviews and viral social media posts, the senator, who represents the conservative PAN party but has staked out a number of progressive policy positions, has fought back with characteristic candor, framing the president as reckless and machista. David Shortell, CNN, 22 July 2023 But today Kareem Abdul-Jabbar prefers to focus on his role as an activist and social critic, writing with uncommon candor on such topics as race, politics, culture … and basketball. David Morgan, CBS News, 14 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'candor.' 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 candeur, from Latin candor, from candēre — more at candid

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Time Traveler
The first known use of candor was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near candor

Cite this Entry

“Candor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


can·​dor ˈkan-dər How to pronounce candor (audio)
: sincere and honest expression : frankness

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