I recently read the sentence

Thank you for your candor and honesty.

Is that grammatically correct? To me it seems redundant as candor is a synonym for honesty. Does candor have other meanings that would not make it redundant in this sentence?

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    Sometimes, even when two words are synonyms, one may use them both; for example, for emphasis. – GEdgar Nov 3 '11 at 18:15

The question you're asking isn't really grammar-related as redundancy isn't a grammatical problem (so, yes, it's perfectly grammatical).

As far as being redundant, while candor does relate to honesty, it usually has a sense of being not only honest, but direct, frank, or otherwise outspoken. So it's quite possible to state something honestly, but not particularly candidly by beating around the bush or being especially tactful.

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  • Yes, but can you be candid but dishonest? If not, I'd say the word honesty is indeed redundant here. – T.E.D. Nov 3 '11 at 15:22
  • @T.E.D.: Just because you probably can't be simultaneously candid and dishonest doesn't mean that honesty is redundant in association with candour. As Dusty says, it's quite possible to be honest without being candid and forthcoming - witness the Oracle at Delphi telling Croesus a great empire will fall if he attacks Persia. – FumbleFingers Nov 3 '11 at 16:00
  • @FumbleFingers - I'm not sure I understand your point. If one word completely encompases the possible meanings of the other, then surely that other word is unnessecary (redundant)? – T.E.D. Nov 3 '11 at 16:09
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    But honesty doesn't completely encompass candour, even though dishonesty is incompatible with candour. It's perfectly possible to be honest but misleading, as in the Oracle there (you couldn't possibly say the Oracle's statement was candid). So there are contexts where including candour tells you something about the nature of the honesty. – FumbleFingers Nov 3 '11 at 16:25
  • ...but you could just as well leave off "honesty" and the same thing would be said, no? – T.E.D. Nov 3 '11 at 17:20

"Candor" means frankness or openness, "honesty" means truthfullness.

As Dusty notes, you can certainly be honest without being candid. If you are reluctant to tell the truth and it has to be pulled out of you, or if you beat around the bush or use euphemisms, for example.

Whether you can be candid without being honest gets into the exact definitions, or maybe connotations, of the words. As I understand them, if you said, "I was really mad because Bill insulted me," that would be "candid": you are freely and openly expressing your opinions and feelings. But if Bill's insult was trivial, or if it was prompted by some bad action on your part that might lead an outside observer to say that you were to blame, then your statement is not really honest. So in that sense I think you could be candid without being honest. It's a fine line, though.

In any case, sure, I try to avoid being redundant or repetitious or saying the same thing twice. But redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. It is often used for emphasis. If you say, "Sally is an incredibly beautiful, stunning, gorgeous girl", you might say that technically this is the same as saying, "Sally is pretty", just redundant. But clearly the first sentence is more emphatic than the second, precisely because it is redundant.

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Maybe I'm splitting hairs a bit, but if you use

  • candor to express impartiality and a freedom from bias, and
  • honesty to denote a fairness and straightforwardness of conduct

then candor and honesty reinforce each other in praise of the probity of the person being thanked.

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