The 75 Best Quotes about Being Honest

Although George Washington did not kill his father’s cherry tree or utter the words “I cannot tell a lie,” honesty is such an important quality that we teach it to very young American children with the George Washington legend. Honesty is a gift we offer to ourselves and each other, but it is not an easy gift to give. The quality most sought-after in children and adults, honesty is courageous. It is not easy to own mistakes, nor is it easy to tell someone you are displeased.

Honesty is what we need if we are to have meaningful relationships with those we care about. Not the cruel kind of “honesty” where you “say it as you see it,” but a compassionate desire to be truthful in all our actions and words. Many people have spoken about honesty, and there is a lot of advice about it, but how can we best demonstrate our honesty? In answer to that question, we have created a list of 75 of the absolute best honesty quotes we could find to help us all discover what honesty truly means.

Honesty Quotes

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth the trying.” Fred Rogers

“Anything is better than lies and deceit!” Leo Tolstoy

“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.” Maya Angelou

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.” Jane Austen

“The first step is to be honest, and then to be noble.” Winston Churchill

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott

“Honesty is not found in revealing the truth, but in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are. To become honest is in effect to become fully and robustly incarnated into powerlessness.” David Whyte

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln

“Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.” James Altucher

“Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.” John Gerzema

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“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.”Czesław Miłosz

“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou

“It takes strength and courage to admit the truth.” Rick Riordan

“Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.” Albert Camus

“If you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always turned out to be a thing that had to be done alone.” Richard Yates

“The real source of inner joy is to remain truthful and honest.” 14th Dalai Lama

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Spencer Johnson

“Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?” John Steinbeck

“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.” Kent M. Keith

“Honesty is a very expensive gift, Don’t expect it from cheap people.” Warren Buffett

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” John Lennon

“Do what is right… do it with honesty and vigor. Be creative – that’s important. Don’t follow what other people are doing.” John Gokongwei

“Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.” Richard Bach

“I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.” George Washington

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

“When a man is penalized for honesty he learns to lie.” Criss Jami

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” James E. Faust

“I like children … pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by them.” Oliver Wendall Holmes

“Most people are not good people. In business, in art, in almost every ‘world’ I’ve been in, most people I’ve met are pretty gray to black. It takes practice to be the person who is a source of compassion and honesty.” James Altucher

“Most of what I say is complete truth. My edit button is broken.” Myra McEntire

“There is no well-defined boundary between honesty and dishonesty. The frontiers of one blend with the outside limits of the other, and he who attempts to tread this dangerous ground may be sometimes in one domain and sometimes in the other so the only safe road is the broad highway that leads straight through and has been well defined by line and compass.” O. Henry

When we are not honest, we are cut off from a significant resource of ourselves, a vital dimension that is necessary for unity and wholeness.” Clark Moustakas

“The truth may not set you free, but used carefully, it can confuse the hell out of your enemies.” Laurell K. Hamilton

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Muriel Rukeyser

“I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business.” Harvey S. Firestone

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“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Marcus Aurelius

“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.” H.L. Mencken

“Honesty is an eternal principle in the government of God; a great pillar in his magnificent house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; an attribute of his immortal and glorious being. In a man it is a God-like thing, simple in its beauty, grand in its simplicity.” George Sumner Weaver

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” William Shakespeare

“To tell the truth is very difficult, and young people are rarely capable of it.” Leo Tolstoy

“Honesty is as rare as a man without self-pity.” Stephen Vincent Benet

“As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, ‘I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.” Harper Lee

“Honesty: The best of all the lost arts.” Mark Twain

Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself as he is?” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” Noel Coward

“The truth needs so little rehearsal.” Barbara Kingsolver

“An honest man is all of a piece the whole contexture of his life.” Daniel Defoe

“There are honest people in the world, but only because the devil considers their asking prices ridiculous.” Peter S. Beagle

“Honesty is always the best policy, even when it’s not the trend.” Sean Covey

“I would replace the quality of sincerity with honesty, since one can hold a conviction sincerely without examining it, while honesty would require that one subject one’s convictions to frequent scrutiny.” Christopher Phillips

“”Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted.” Ayn Rand

“One of the few things in life that cannot possibly do harm in the end is the honest pursuit of the truth.” Peter Kreeft

“The armour of falsehood is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from others, but from his own soul.” E.M. Forster

“Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is seldom offered to them by their friends” Alexis de Tocqueville

“I cannot encourage any fabrication even for the sake of making people feel good. If I were to fabricate consciously and knowingly, I would not only be ordaining myself their enemy, but also ordaining myself God’s enemy.” Criss Jami

“The main trouble with being an honest man was that it lost you all your illusions.” James Jones

“Don’t ever regret being honest. Period.” Taylor Swift

“In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.” Robert McKee

“I think humans are only capable of small moments of honesty. Then they get tired and back away. It’s something to foster, this ability to keep it for longer. How to keep being honest and aware.” Laura Pritchett

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If you are honest with yourself, your life will be so much more pleasant.” Jessica Zafra

“The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time. If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention. And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.” Dorothy L. Sayers

“The truth is everything in the end. It is the greatest power in the world to make all people equal. If everyone knows what the truth is, no one can use lies to separate those people and turn them against one another.” Mel Odom

“If you expect honesty, be honest. If you expect forgiveness, forgive. If you expect a whole person, you have to be a whole person.” Kristen Crockett

“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” Benjamin Franklin

“Most people are clever because they don’t know how to be honest.” William Gaddis

“The world loves to be amused by hollow professions, to be deceived by flattering appearances, to live in a state of hallucination; and can forgive everything but the plain, downright, simple, honest truth.” William Hazlitt

“If you’re honest with yourself as a writer, trying to tell the best story you can, your story will be an honest one. And your values will come out, no matter how hard you try to disguise them.” Joe Clifford Faust

Honesty Quotes – Video (Social Experiment)

This is a fun clip that explores how honest people really will behave in a public situation when presented with a moral dilemma.  What would YOU do if you saw someone drop a $100 bill – would you keep it or try to return it to the person who dropped it? Will people be selfish, or honest. Watch to find out…



These 75 quotes about honesty can teach us a lot if we are willing to consider them carefully. Make them a part of your daily life by choosing several and sending them to friends in emails and cards. Make cards for yourself and post one every few days so you can be reminded of the benefits of the simplest and most difficult virtue – honesty.

Make it a habit, to tell the truth – to yourself and others, with compassion. You must be brave in order to be honest, but you will be pleased with the positive results.


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