Truth is an increasingly tarnished notion in a world filled with distortions and outright lies. Being true to yourself is important and it’s difficult to maintain that kind of self-authenticity when we are being inauthentic with others.

It is worth noting just how highly some of the most important figures in world history have valued the truth. This extends both to being honest with those around us as well as honest with ourselves, to say nothing of telling the truth when it is difficult.

The last part might be the hardest. When people talk about “honesty” they often refer to the little interactions we make on a daily basis. While this can be difficult at times, it is nothing compared to telling a necessary but difficult truth at a time when all the cards are stacked against you. This is what requires true moral courage—to tell the truth when one has skin in the game.

But by telling the truth in the little things we can train ourselves to tell the big truths when they matter the most. Read on to learn why some of the greatest minds of human history valued the truth so highly and why they considered telling uncomfortable truths to be of paramount importance.

Quotes About Honesty


John Steinbeck quote on honesty


“Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?”

– John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


Truman Capote quote on honesty

“The answer is good things only happen to you if you’re good. Good? Honest is more what I mean…Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”

– Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s


Mark Twain quote on honesty


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

– Mark Twain


Mark Twain quote on honesty


“There’s one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him; if he says yes, you know he’s crooked.”

– Mark Twain


Noel Coward quote on honesty


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

– Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit


Louisa May Alcott quote on honesty

“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.”

– Louisa May Alcott, Little Men


Lincoln quote on honesty


“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


Immanuel Kant quote on honesty


“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”

– Immanuel Kant


T. Jefferson quote on honesty


“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Chinese proverb quote on honesty


“Avoid suspicion: when you’re walking through your neighbor’s melon patch, don’t tie your shoe.”

– Chinese proverb

Quotes About Telling the Truth


Ghandi quote on honesty


“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”

– Mahatma Ghandi


Ann Landers quote on honesty


“The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie.”

Ann Landers


J. Abbadie quote on honesty


“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.”

– Jacques Abbadie


Albert Eainstein quote on honesty


“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

– Albert Einstein


Spencer Johnson quote on honesty


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

– Spencer Johnson


Patrick Henry quote on honesty


“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.”

– Patrick Henry


Virginia Woolf quote on honesty


“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

– Virginia Woolf


Marcus Aurelius quote on honesty


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

– Marcus Aurelius


George Martin quote on honesty


“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”

– George R.R. Martin


Plato quote on honesty


“You should not honor men more than truth.”

– Plato


Goerge Washington quote on honesty


“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

– George Washington


Fyodor Dostoevsky quote on honesty


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

– Fyodor Dostoevsky


Dr. Seuss quote on honesty


“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

– Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn quote on honesty


“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


George Washington quote on honesty

“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”

– George Washington