can·dor | \ ˈkan-dər , -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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Did You Know?

The origins of "candor" shine through in its first definition. "Candor" traces back to the Latin verb candēre ("to shine or glow"), which in turn derives from the same ancient root that gave the Welsh language can, meaning "white," and the Sanskrit language "candati," which translates to "it shines." Other descendants of "candēre" in English include "candid," "incandescent," "candle," and the somewhat less common "candent" and "candescent" (both of which are synonyms of "incandescent" in the sense of "glowing from or as if from great heat"). There is even "excandescence ," an uncommon word that refers to a feverish condition brought on by anger or passion.

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

The success of his eponymous children’s show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, hinged on his friendliness, candor and uncanny approachability. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Mr. Rogers’ Wife Share’s the Couple’s One-Of-A-Kind Love Story," 9 July 2018 On Twitter, author and notable Baltimorean Laura Lippman reminisced about Bourdian’s candor and charm. Anna Muckerman,, "Remembering Anthony Bourdain and his rocky relationship with Baltimore," 8 June 2018 The candor and complexity of those female characters is something that Foster sees as an outgrowth of the recent inroads women have made as filmmakers. Gary Thompson,, "Jodie Foster talks about 'Hotel Artemis,' 'Black Mirror,' the business that shaped her, and the business she's helping to shape," 1 June 2018 Now, with a striking mix of candor and self-reflection, Hernandez takes us along on his journey to baseball immortality. Keith Hernandez, Fox News, "'I'm Keith Hernandez' by Keith Hernandez," 16 May 2018 He will be greatly missed for his wisdom and candor. Jodi Guglielmi,, "Pawn Stars' Richard 'Old Man' Harrison Dies at Age 77 After Battling Parkinson's Disease," 25 June 2018 All that raw confessional candor can take its toll, though. John Adamian,, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 Given that Drake has made his career by putting his most vulnerable sentiments on display, the lack of candor here is notable. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "For the First Time, Drake Runs From His Feelings," 2 July 2018 Throughout the project, Kanye's candor about his mental health and recent indiscretions were ubiquitous. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "Kanye West Throws Star-Studded Album Listening Party For 'Ye' In Wyoming," 1 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about candor

Listen to Our Podcast about candor

Statistics for candor

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for candor

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for candor



English Language Learners Definition of candor

: the quality of being open, sincere, and honest


can·dor | \ ˈkan-dər \

Kids Definition of candor

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on candor

What made you want to look up candor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!