Noun > Candor

Noun – Candor

The word “candor” comes straight from Latin, where it means “purity” or “openness,” among other things (like “snow,” “whiteness,” “heat,” and “beauty”).

In English, “candor” first meant “brightness, whiteness, purity.” Then, it grew to mean “justice, fairness of mind.”

And since about 1769, “candor” has most often meant “truth in expressing your thoughts.” In other words, candor is honesty: the kind that’s open, frank, straightforward, and outspoken. If you’re being candid, you’re saying exactly what you think and feel, without holding anything back.

Part of speech:
noun, the uncountable kind: “I admire her candor,” “we ask for your candor.”

Other forms:
Candid, candidly.

If you prefer the noun “candidness” to “candor,” that’s fine, too. It’s just less common.

And outside the US, “candor” is “candour,” spelled like “colour,” “flavour” and so on.

how to use it:
First, let’s clarify: although candor is often good thing, it can also seem immature (“Ew, too much information”) or tactless (“Ugh, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything”).

Either way, talk about someone’s candor, or about the candor of someone’s statement, or about someone doing or saying something with candor.

Or, talk generally about candor: “we value candor here,” “she seems to lack candor.”

Candor usually shows up in people’s words. But because candor is simply the absence of holding things back, it can also show up in people’s choices, actions, and artistic creations. Here’s the New York Times: “[The film] is studded with moments like this — candor and dark humor.”

Even a photograph can show candor, which explains why “candid” photography is the kind that shows people actually living their lives, doing real things, rather than standing around posing for the camera.

“I hate banking…A desk and a ledger–Oh, I hate them! I would like to live out of doors.’ He pointed to the country about them, the stream, the sylvan path they were treading, the wood beside them, with its depths gilded here and there by a ray of the sun. ‘I want’–in a burst of candor–‘to live my own life! To be able to follow my own bent and make the most of myself.'”
— Stanley J. Weyman, Ovington’s Bank, 1922

“The central technique of germ-hunting has been a labor-intensive process called contact tracing. It starts with a search for the person or people who were the first to be infected. Then the search expands to the people those initial patients interacted with, then the ones they interacted with, and so on… [it’s] an imperfect process that relies on peoples’ memories, their candor, and an absence of chance encounters with strangers.”
— Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, 22 February 2020