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

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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.

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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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Think outside the box, and dazzle everyone with your ingenuity and candor. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 3 July 2024 Some of the speakers at the service were open about Mr. McKim’s challenges with mental health, a candor that was seen by many as a step toward raising awareness about the issue. Michael Corkery Tailyr Irvine, New York Times, 10 June 2024 That lack of candor launched investigations by Congress and the Pentagon’s Inspector General. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, 24 May 2024 Through his tenure in Taiwan’s occasionally unruly parliament, Lai earned a reputation for candor and, occasionally, confrontation. Nick Frisch, Foreign Affairs, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for candor 

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 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

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