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22 Honesty Quotes to Inspire the Truth

Of all the traits that are considered part of a moral character, few are more highly regarded than honesty — being truthful with others, and also with ourselves. As the old proverb goes, “Honesty is the best policy.”

First written down by the English politician Edwin Sandys in 1599, the saying was later repeated by many famous figures, including eminent American thinkers and politicians such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. (The latter used the proverb in his farewell address of 1796, saying, “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.”) And then there was Mark Twain, who wryly stated that “honesty is the best policy — when there is money in it.”

Here are some more quotes from famous names who have held truth-telling in the highest regard, from William Shakespeare to Kristen Stewart.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.
William Shakespeare

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Let honesty be as the breath of thy soul.
Benjamin Franklin

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Honesty is one part of eloquence. We persuade others by being in earnest ourselves.
William Hazlitt

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He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
Thomas Paine

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To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so, is something worse.
John Quincy Adams

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

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Still I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an honest man.
George Washington

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Every man who expresses an honest thought is a soldier in the army of intellectual liberty.
Robert G. Ingersoll

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Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense.
Theodore Roosevelt

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Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: “A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
Sigmund Freud

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Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed.
William Faulkner

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Early on in my career I had to decide between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.
Frank Lloyd Wright

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I'd rather get bad news from an honest man than lies from a flatterer.
Ursula K. Le Guin

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To express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself… now that, my friend, is very hard to do.
Bruce Lee

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

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I wish we could stop the little lies. I don't mean that one has to be brutally frank. I don't believe that we should be brutal about anything, however, it is wonderfully liberating to be honest.
Maya Angelou

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Almost any difficulty will move in the face of honesty. When I am honest I never feel stupid. And when I am honest I am automatically humble.
Hugh Prather

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

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To live a life of honesty and integrity is a responsibility of every decent person.
Noam Chomsky

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Funny women are honest women. I guess that’s also true for men, but no one ever asks me if my male characters are presenting a negative image of masculinity.
Elizabeth Meriwether

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It's impossible to always get across what I'm trying to say, but, if I just stay honest, then I'm not going to look back on any of these interviews and wonder what I was trying to do or be.
Kristen Stewart

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Featured image credit: oatawa/ Shutterstock

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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