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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

His high-risk, high-candor adventures were possible thanks to the almost mystical backing of his boss, John Elkann, the 42-year-old grandson of legendary Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "A Workaholic Saved Chrysler," 25 July 2018 With the birth of her child, Union will no doubt have even more to say and her candor is sure to be impactful. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Gabrielle Union Introduces the World to Her Daughter With a Powerful Statement on Motherhood," 9 Nov. 2018 George has approached the occasion with unprecedented candor. Rob Mahoney,, "Paul George’s Thunder Trial Relies on Partnership With Russell Westbrook," 27 Feb. 2018 Fans certainly appreciate her candor on the subject. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "People Are Praising Kim Kardashian for Sharing Pics of Her ‘Psoriasis Face’," 13 Mar. 2019 At the time, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. McCabe had repeatedly shown a lack of candor under oath. Adam Goldman And Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Former F.B.I. Deputy Director Is Faulted in Scathing Inspector General Report," 13 Apr. 2018 At the time, Sessions said McCabe had repeatedly shown a lack of candor under oath. Author: Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos, Anchorage Daily News, "Former FBI deputy director is faulted in scathing inspector general report," 13 Apr. 2018 At the time, Sessions said McCabe had repeatedly shown a lack of candor under oath. Adam Goldman,, "Report says former FBI deputy director misled investigators," 13 Apr. 2018 But on Friday night, around 10:00 PM Eastern, he was stripped of his federal pension just 48 hours before it was set to kick in, fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for, quote, lack of candor under oath on multiple occasions. Fox News, "'The Five' on fallout from the firing of Andrew McCabe," 20 Mar. 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.

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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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Last Updated

12 May 2019

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Time Traveler for candor

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

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More Definitions for candor



English Language Learners Definition of candor

: the quality of being open, sincere, and honest


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

Kids Definition of candor

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on candor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with candor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for candor

Spanish Central: Translation of candor

Nglish: Translation of candor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of candor for Arabic Speakers

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