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the seed pods of honesty
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From Middle English honeste (honour, integrity), from Old French honesté (compare modern French honnêteté) (honest +‎ -y); the plant, from the visibility of the seeds through the translucent pods. Displaced native Old English sōþfæstnes.



honesty (countable and uncountable, plural honesties)

  1. (uncountable, countable) The act, quality, or condition of being honest.
    academic / artistic / emotional / intellectual honesty
    brutal / devastating / searing honesty
    • c. 1591–1595 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene ii]:
      There’s no trust,
      No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured,
      All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.
    • 1787, George Colman, Junior, Inkle and Yarico, London: G.G.J. & J. Robinson, Act 2, p. 45,[1]
      O give me your plain dealing Fellows
      Who never from honesty shrink;
      Not thinking on all they shou’d tell us,
      But telling us all that they think.
    • 1891, Oscar Wilde, The Duchess of Padua:
      [...] Are you honest, boy?
      Then be not spendthrift of your honesty,
      But keep it to yourself; in Padua
      Men think that honesty is ostentatious, so
      It is not of the fashion.
    • 1965, George Steiner, “Dying is an Art”, in Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature and the Inhuman, New York: Atheneum, published 1986, page 295:
      To those who knew her and to the greatly enlarged circle who were electrified by her last poems and sudden death, she had come to signify the specific honesties and risks of the poet’s condition.
  2. (uncountable, countable, obsolete) Honor; decency, propriety.
  3. (uncountable, countable, obsolete) Chastity.
  4. (countable) Any of various crucifers in the genus Lunaria, several of which are grown as ornamentals, particularly Lunaria annua.
    • 1940, Rosetta E. Clarkson, Green Enchantments: The Magic Spell of Gardens, The Macmillan Company, page 271:
      Various measures were taken to avoid it, most popular being the suspension of certain herbs and tree branches over the doorways of dwellings and stables. Commonly used greenery were tansy, honesty, garlic, St. John's Wort, mountain ash, roadside verbena.
    • 2002, Sarah Waters, Fingersmith, Virago Press (2005), page 156:
      She thought a minute, then stepped nimbly back into her cottage; and what she came out with at last was, a sprig of dry leaves, round as shillings, white as paper, quivering on a few thin stalks that looked ready to snap.
      It was honesty.


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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of honeste (honour)