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hon·​est ˈä-nəst How to pronounce honest (audio)
: free from fraud or deception : legitimate, truthful
an honest plea
an honest presentation of facts
: genuine, real
making honest stops at stop signsChristian Science Monitor
: humble, plain
good honest food
: reputable, respectable
honest decent people
chiefly British : good, worthy
an honest fellow
: worthy of praise
an honest day's work
put forth an honest effort
: marked by integrity
honest merchants
: marked by free, forthright, and sincere expression : frank
an honest appraisal
an honest discussion
: direct and uncomplicated : innocent, simple
some good honest sleep


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: in a genuine or honest (see honest entry 1) manner : honestly
I have ever found thee honest trueWilliam Shakespeare
: with all sincerity
I didn't do it, honest
Choose the Right Synonym for honest

upright, honest, just, conscientious, scrupulous, honorable mean having or showing a strict regard for what is morally right.

upright implies a strict adherence to moral principles.

a stern and upright minister

honest stresses adherence to such virtues as truthfulness, candor, or fairness.

known for being honest in business dealings

just stresses conscious choice and regular practice of what is right or equitable.

workers given just compensation

conscientious and scrupulous imply an active moral sense governing all one's actions and painstaking efforts to follow one's conscience.

conscientious in the completion of her assignments
scrupulous in carrying out the terms of the will

honorable suggests a firm holding to codes of right behavior and the guidance of a high sense of honor and duty.

a difficult but honorable decision

Examples of honest in a Sentence

Adjective He says that it's impossible to find an honest politician. These criminals pose a danger to honest citizens. He has an honest face. Just give me an honest answer. If you want my honest opinion, you should get a job. To be perfectly honest, I don't want to go. He gave us a painfully honest account of his childhood. It was an honest error. He still goes to the office every morning and puts in an honest day's work. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Psychologists sometimes define assertive communication as direct and honest, but respectful. Annie Midori Atherton, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Feb. 2024 First and foremost, the governor needs to be honest with Californians about how bad our state budget crisis actually is. Lindsey Holden, Sacramento Bee, 5 Feb. 2024 The comedian, former The Daily Show correspondent and new author is clear on her desires for the future while being honest about the realities of the present. Keyaira Boone, Essence, 5 Feb. 2024 There was something incredibly special about it to me, and the people here are incredibly honest, real, and good-humored. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 4 Feb. 2024 In a time of hyperpolarization, international unrest, and negative public views of both party leaders, the honest answer is that nobody can say for sure. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 2 Feb. 2024 Bravo to the show’s creators as well as Anthony White, the choir’s honest but encouraging director, for keeping the focus off divisive interpersonal drama and more on the students’ individual efforts to work hard, project their voices and exude confidence — on and off the stage. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 After the game, the Lions’ coach, Dan Campbell, was admirably honest about the situation. Nr Editors, National Review, 2 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'honest.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin honestus honorable, from honos, honor honor


derivative of honest entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near honest

Cite this Entry

“Honest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honest. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
hon·​est ˈän-əst How to pronounce honest (audio)
: free from fraud or trickery : truthful
an honest plea
: being just what is indicated : genuine, real
made an honest mistake
: good in the eyes of society : respectable
poor but honest people
: frank, open


2 of 2 adverb
: to tell the truth : I mean it
I didn't do it, honest I didn't

More from Merriam-Webster on honest

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