Definition of honest in English:


Syllabification: hon·est
Pronunciation: /ˈänəst


1Free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere: I haven’t been totally honest with you
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  • For a transaction of this magnitude to be successful, all parties involved must be honest, sincere and truthful to one another.
  • As a Republican, I sincerely thank you for your honest, open, sincere and thoughtful dialogue.
  • Remember, your compliments must be honest, sincere and genuine.
1.1Morally correct or virtuous: I did the only right and honest thing
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  • ‘From the beginning we have been asking for fair and honest elections,’ he said.
  • All but four members of the commission said that the last election was fair and honest.
  • I believe that only a truly even-handed approach can lead to an honest, morally convincing, and effective human rights policy.
1.2 [attributive] Fairly earned, especially through hard work: struggling to make an honest living
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  • These are innocent people just trying to earn an honest living, but who end up the real victims.
  • Workers, often women, take risks to earn an honest living.
  • And the woman draws herself up and delivers a stirring dialogue on her right to stay there and earn an honest living.
1.3(Of an action) blameless or well intentioned even if unsuccessful or misguided: he’d made an honest mistake
More example sentences
  • Bob's position was an honest attempt to achieve something real.
  • The forums were honest, objective attempts to address the facts, and they have succeeded beyond our expectations.
  • I think it was an honest and reasonable mistake for them to make at the time.
genuine, true, bona fide, legitimate
1.4 [attributive] Simple, unpretentious, and unsophisticated: good honest food with no gimmicks
More example sentences
  • It is an honest, simple pie, and we extol its simplicities.
  • It is a simple, delicate, honest piece of work that strikes so many chords it could almost be music itself.
  • In all the nostalgic celebrations, the impression is inevitably created that blues is some kind of touchstone for a simpler and more honest past: feel-good music for white people.


[sentence adverb] informal Back to top  
Used to persuade someone of the truth of something: you’ll like it when you get there, honest
More example sentences
  • I've been neglecting my journal but I'm determined to try harder, honest.


Middle English (originally in the sense 'held in or deserving of honor'): via Old French from Latin honestus, from honos (see honor).


make an honest woman of

dated or humorous Marry a woman, especially to avoid scandal if she is pregnant.
[honest here originally meant 'respectable', but was probably associated with the archaic sense 'chaste, virtuous']
More example sentences
  • I hear you're making an honest woman of my sister.
  • Have you been putting off making an honest woman of your partner?
  • A source close to the couple recently revealed: ‘David's really keen to make an honest woman of Catherine - they've never talked about their relationship in public but they definitely see a long future together.’

to be honest

Speaking frankly: I’ve never been much of a movie buff, to be honest
More example sentences
  • I never really thought it would happen and, to be honest, I still don't think it will.
  • It's about an hour after the game and I'm still in a state of shock, to be honest.
  • To say I broke my foot playing football is, to be honest, stretching the truth somewhat.

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Word of the day retroflex
Pronunciation: ˈretrəˌfleks
turned backward