hon·​est | \ˈä-nəst \

Definition of honest 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : free from fraud or deception : legitimate, truthful an honest plea an honest presentation of facts

b : genuine, real making honest stops at stop signsChristian Science Monitor

c : humble, plain good honest food

2a : reputable, respectable honest decent people

b chiefly British : good, worthy an honest fellow

3 : worthy of praise an honest day's work put forth an honest effort

4a : marked by integrity honest merchants

b : marked by free, forthright, and sincere expression : frank an honest appraisal an honest discussion

c : direct and uncomplicated : innocent, simple some good honest sleep



Definition of honest (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : in a genuine or honest (see honest entry 1) manner : honestly I have ever found thee honest true— William Shakespeare

2 : with all sincerity I didn't do it, honest

Keep scrolling for more

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


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: Adjective

Stopping crime can be dangerous, keeping government honest is time-consuming, and saving trees in Atlanta is almost futile. Bill Torpy, ajc, "Torpy at Large: Any excuse given for littering is garbage," 6 July 2018 Yet between Rondo, Stephenson, and Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles now has three ball-dominant guards without the shooting ability to keep defenses honest. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Grades: Rajon Rondo Presents a Curious Fit For LeBron and Lakers," 2 July 2018 His command is good enough that nearly three of every four pitches is a fastball, with the slider serving to keep hitters honest. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "The Royals' most encouraging part of a mostly miserable season," 25 June 2018 Wasden fears not having the state accounting system there to keep the bureau honest would hand control of state water to the feds. Melissa Davlin And Seth Ogilvie, idahostatesman, "These reservoirs keep Boise from flooding. But irrigators don't like how they're run.," 4 June 2018 His stats were pretty exceptional, to be honest with you, considering the ice time and the lack of top-six minutes. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes' British-born Liam Kirk followed a different path en route to making history," 29 June 2018 Just be honest with Mark and ask him to do the same with you. Anchorage Daily News, "Should I pick the ex who dumped me but had a change of heart – or the whirlwind romance guy who’s long distance?," 17 June 2018 Couldn’t come at a better time, to be honest with you, this last stretch before the All-Star break. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Giants: No complaints about Madison Bumgarner’s sharp comeback," 5 June 2018 Moscow Let’s be honest: Sunday’s matchup between France and Croatia isn’t the World Cup final anyone was hoping for. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Croatia Eyes the Greatest Upset in World Cup History," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'honest.' 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 honest


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


1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for honest


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


see honest entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about honest

Statistics for honest

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for honest

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for honest



English Language Learners Definition of honest

: good and truthful : not lying, stealing, or cheating

: showing or suggesting a good and truthful character

: not hiding the truth about someone or something : not meant to deceive someone


hon·​est | \ˈä-nəst \

Kids Definition of honest

1 : not engaging in or involving cheating, stealing, or lying an honest citizen an honest living

2 : not marked by lies or trickery : straightforward an honest answer

3 : being just what is indicated : real, genuine He did an honest day's work.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on honest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for honest

Spanish Central: Translation of honest

Nglish: Translation of honest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of honest for Arabic Speakers

Comments on honest

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


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
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!