Honesty Essay Wikipedia

For other uses, see Honesty (disambiguation).

Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc. Honesty also involves being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere.

Honesty is valued in many ethnic and religious cultures.[1][2][3][4][5] "Honesty is the best policy" is a proverb of Benjamin Franklin, while the quote "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom" is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, as used in a letter to Nathaniel Macon.[6]

William Shakespeare famously describes honesty as an attribute people leave behind when he wrote that "no legacy is so rich as honesty" in act 3 scene 5 of "All's Well that Ends Well."[7]

Others have noted, however, that "[t]oo much honesty might be seen as undisciplined openness".[8] For example, individuals may be perceived as being "too honest" if they honestly express the negative opinions of others, either without having been asked their opinion, or having been asked in a circumstance where the response would be trivial.


Merriam-Webster defines honesty as "fairness and straightforwardness of conduct" or "adherence to the facts."[9]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines honesty as "the quality of being honest."[10] Honest is, in turn, defined as "Free of deceit; truthful and sincere...Morally correct or virtuous...(attributive) Fairly earned, especially through hard work...(of an action) done with good intentions even if unsuccessful or misguided...(attributive) Simple, unpretentious, and unsophisticated. [11]

See also[edit]


Wikiquote has quotations related to: Honesty

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Honesty at Wikiquote

  1. ^Rogers, Carl R. (1964.) "Toward a modern approach to values: The valuing process in the mature person.", The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 68(2):160-7.
  2. ^Dahlsgaard, Katherine; Peterson, Christopher; Seligman, Martin E. P. (2005.) "Shared Virtue: The Convergence of Valued Human Strengths Across Culture and History", Review of General Psychology, 9(3):203-13.
  3. ^Hilbig, Benjamin E.; Zettler, Ingo. (2009.) "Pillars of cooperation: Honesty–Humility, social value orientations, and economic behavior", Journal of Research in Personality, 43(3):516-9.
  4. ^Van Lange, Paul A. M.; Kuhlman, D. Michael. (1994.) "Social value orientations and impressions of partner's honesty and intelligence: A test of the might versus morality effect", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(1):126-141.
  5. ^Schluter, Dolph; Price, Trevor. (1993.) "Honesty, Perception and Population Divergence in Sexually Selected Traits", Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 253(1336):117-22.
  6. ^"Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon". The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827. January 12, 1819. 
  7. ^William Shakespeare. All's Well That Ends Well MIT Shakespeare.
  8. ^Barbara MacKinnon, Andrew Fiala, Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Concise Edition (2015), p. 93.
  9. ^Merriam-Webster (2017) Honesty Merriam-Webster.
  10. ^Oxford English Dictionary (2017) Honesty OED.
  11. ^Oxford English Dictionary (2017) Honest OED.

Honesty is when you speak the truth and act truthfully.

What is honesty? Many children think honesty means you "don't tell a lie"-- and that is definitely part of being honest. But honesty means more than not lying. A more complete definition of honesty shows that an honest person doesn't do things that are morally wrong. If something you do is breaking the law or if you have to hide what you are doing because you'll get in trouble, you are probably not being honest. So honesty is about speaking and acting truthfully. Let's look at what each type of honesty is.

What is honesty? – the first part of honesty is about what you say

Honesty is speaking the truth. Saying things that aren't true, or that you think might not be true, or that you are making up to hide the truth are all types of lies. Lying is not honest (also called being dishonest) because you are saying something that isn't true.

Examples of what speaking the honest truth means:

  • Honesty means you don't say things about people that aren't true. You are not being honest if you make up rumors about someone or if you share rumors someone else made up.
  • Being honest means you admit to your actions, even if you'll get in trouble. You are not being honest if you deny you did something wrong when you really did it.
  • Honesty means you explain how a situation really happened. You are not being honest if you say something happened one way when it really happened another way.

What is honesty? Honesty is in how you act

When you do something you know is morally wrong, or when you have to hide your actions because you know they are wrong, you are not being honest. Being honest means you act in a way that you know is the right thing to do. (More about good character, morals and how to know "right" from "wrong".)

This part of the definition of honesty includes not hiding the truth (deceiving), not breaking rules to gain an advantage (cheating), and not taking something that isn't yours (stealing) and any other action that you would hide because it is against what you consider morally right.

What is being honest with yourself?

A big part of honesty is what you say and how you act toward others. But another part of the definition of honesty is whether you treat yourself the same way. Being honest with yourself means you really know why you are acting in a certain way or whether what you tell yourself is true.

This part of the definition of honesty includes:

  • You are not being honest with yourself if you are trying to convince yourself you didn't really do something wrong, or it wasn't that bad, even though you really did it.

“A conscience is that voice in your head, and that feeling in your heart, that tells you if something is right or wrong, even when no one is looking”

Read this story about honesty

Examples of what honesty is

Create your own definition for what honesty is from these examples.

What is honesty in this situation?

You broke a table. Your mom asks who broke the table and you tell her you did it.

Honesty answer: Honesty means telling the truth, so admitting to breaking the table is the honest action.

What is honesty in this situation?

You really want to play with a friend's toy at your house so you slip the toy in your backpack and figure you'll put it back tomorrow.

Honesty answer: Taking something that is not yours is morally wrong and dishonest. Asking to borrow the toy is honest.

What is honesty in this situation?

You heard a rumor and you think it's not true, so you don't spread it.

Honesty answer: Spreading rumors isn't a nice thing to do whether they are true or not. But if you spread rumors that you even just think might be false, then you are being dishonest because you aren't speaking the truth.

What is honesty in this situation?

Your dad says not to play your game player. You hide in the closet to play it, but you don't tell your dad about it so you didn't lie.

Honesty answer: Even if you don't get caught, so you don't speak a lie about what you did, sneaking and hiding your actions usually means you are not making an honest choice.

What is honesty in this situation?

You went to Joey's to play, and then went to Austin's without asking. When your dad asks, "Whose house did you play at today?" you say, "I played at Joey's."

Honesty answer: Even if you don't say a lie outright, hiding the truth (deceiving) is dishonest. Being honest means telling the whole truth.

More definitions of good traits

Honesty Teaching Resources

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