can·​dor | \ ˈkan-dər How to pronounce candor (audio) , -ˌdȯr \

Definition of candor

1 : unreserved, honest, or sincere expression : forthrightness the candor with which he acknowledged a weakness in his own case— Aldous Huxley
2 : freedom from prejudice or malice : fairness … a heavy accusation … from a gentleman of your talents, liberality, and candor.— Noah Webster
3a literary : brightness, brilliance the sun poured with a more golden candor— Christoper Morley
b obsolete : unstained purity
4 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.

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 Not everyone is immediately comfortable with radical candor. Elia Wallen, Forbes, 18 July 2022 Thomas has always done his work with admirable candor. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN, 24 June 2022 In its fine balance of emotional and intellectual curiosity, and its elegant assembly of a rich archive of home movies, photographs and interviews, this film unpacks those memories with beguiling candor. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 June 2022 With a disarming candor, the film is the true expression of false emotion. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 16 June 2022 Whether creative candor of this extreme variety seems excessive, cruel, brave, or frightening is up to you. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 15 July 2022 And that bothered some of his teammates, who privately complained about Gobert’s candor. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 July 2022 Frost, mostly known in the U.S. as the host of an afternoon talk show, ended up drawing out rare candor from Nixon and the film captures the pressures of big-ticket TV journalism and the torturous soul of the ex-President. Howard Homonoff, Forbes, 29 June 2022 But the models rely on pattern recognition - not wit, candor or intent. Nitasha Tiku, Anchorage Daily News, 12 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'candor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of candor

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

History and Etymology for candor

French & Latin; French candeur, from Latin candor, from candēre — more at candid

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

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Candor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for candor


can·​dor | \ ˈkan-dər How to pronounce candor (audio) \

Kids Definition of candor

: sincere and honest expression She spoke with candor about the problem.

More from Merriam-Webster on candor

Nglish: Translation of candor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of candor for Arabic Speakers


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