I'm looking for the adjectival form of "integrity."

Instead of "Be a person of integrity," I'd like to say something like "Be [one word I'm looking for]"

I did a Google search for this, but I also wanted to know what stackexchange folks would like to say.

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    I feel confused by the conflict between the subject and the tags. The subject would suggest you were looking for integrious, one precise adjective form of the core noun, no choices here. The tag "word-choice" suggests the opposite, you mean neat adjectives that are synonyms for "a person of integrity". The question at the end of your post can be understood both ways. Users are already arguing. Could you either scrap the tag "word-choice" or include "synonyms" somewhere? – SF. Nov 7 '12 at 8:02
  • I believe honourable or virtuous convey the meaning best. – user45320 Jun 2 '13 at 15:17
  • I have the same question about data integrity. How do you call data which has it? – Massimo Sep 2 '16 at 14:18
  • In the context of something whose observed state/behavior matches that which was fully together or unmodified as expected/desired, for example when talking about a bridge or building or data integrity, I would use "the data maintained integrity" or another related word based on context like "intact/sound", or the negation of an antonym like "uncorrupted/undamaged" – theferrit32 Mar 4 '19 at 2:25

15 Answers 15





It doesn't pass a spell-checker, but there are over 500,000 hits for it on Google, most of which are using it precisely as you defined.

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    heh i was gonna say "be integral" but that would mean.. be all in one piece? – Claudiu Nov 16 '10 at 23:29
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    Where did those 496 500+ Google hits disappear to over the last two years? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 7 '12 at 1:02
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    Interesting.. only ~87,000 now. Google's algorithm may have changed. – Fosco Nov 7 '12 at 6:21
  • Integrous, integrious, and integre are all marked by the OED as both obsolete and rare. All their citations are from before 1700. I would use them with the utmost care. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 6 '13 at 20:09
  • I have heard integrous used often enough in conversation, and, whenever I use it, no one thinks twice about what I mean. The rule about knowing one's audience still applies, but I think that the word is safe to use. – Anonym Jan 13 '14 at 7:27

Virtuous: Having or showing virtue, especially moral excellence: led a virtuous life.

Note that integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Be virtuous!

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    +1. This isn't from the same stem, obviously, but it's the nearest suggestion that has the intended meaning. – JSBձոգչ Nov 17 '10 at 6:12
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    -1, If I could downvote. The question is for adjectival form of integrity, not for any adjective that means the subject has integrity. – systemovich Nov 19 '10 at 12:34
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    @GeoffreyvanWyk: What's the difference? – David Schwartz Nov 7 '12 at 0:16
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    Integrity has meanings other than virtue. For instance: data integrity. So this answer is only sort of right, some of the time (yes, one of those times is the situation cited in the question :p). – Damon Jul 3 '13 at 21:01

integrious Variations of usage found in literature include integrous and integritous, also with similar meaning.


integrious (comparative more integrious, superlative most integrious)
(rare) Marked by integrity.
Howard is an integrious man because his values are congruent with and evident in his words, actions, personality and life.

Most importantly, Wiktionary cites the reference of
The Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition Volume VII.

Considering the marking "rare" along with the OED citation, it appears that it is (or was) an authentic word.

Found something on the Why We Need the word Integrious movement!

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  • A GoogleFan myself, all I could find for integrious", integritous and integrous was ~193, ~284 and ~393 results in Books; 11100, 13600 and 31200 on the Web. – Kris Nov 7 '12 at 7:18

I don't know of an adjective form of integrity, so I can't solve your issue directly. However, depending on if your use case allows it, you might consider the phrase Have integrity. Obviously if you're trying to offer a set of parallel Be X statements, this won't work, but if you're looking for a concise two-word imperative sentence, I think it carries the meaning you're looking for.

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Why limit the word to a form of "integrity" which from what I've seen is a bit sterile, when there are so many other words that convey the meaning so beautifully:

Be noble

Be upstanding

Be moral

Be without reproach

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To directly answer your question, there is really no adjective for integrity. However, there are several that could capture the essence of the word, although not in its entirety.

Thus, a few examples are:

  • Be honest
  • Be true to yourself
  • Be upright
  • Be blameless
  • Be above reproach

Few, if any, however, are colloquial. My suggestion would be to select the word(s) (and there are many) that represent the aspect of integrity you deem most important for the occasion.

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Be Ethical

Ethical - of or relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.

Integrity - the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

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Depending on whom I was writing to or for, I might be brave enough to try 'intact'. 'John was a thoroughly intact individual, so I decided to trust the job to him'. The Latin 'intacta' means 'unimpaired'. The second meaning of 'integrity' in the ODE (not OED) is 'the state of being whole and undivided'. So my contention is that an honest person is an 'intact' person.

But then it would be just as quick to say 'As John was a man of integrity, I decided to trust the job to him'.

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Describing a person, I would favour 'virtuous'. In the context of data integrity, though, I have heard industry people use 'integral' to describe data.

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If you don't like what you have so far (Yahoo Answers' "there is no noun [sic!] with the same root, use 'upright'", or the many suggestions in that WordReference thread — "a good sort", "decent bloke", "a man of integrity", "a man of good character", "principled", "reasonable" and whatnot), then you can use this:

Be a mensch.

Merriam-Webster defines mensch thusly:

a person of integrity and honor

Wiktionary even has a few cites:

  • 1960, The Apartment:
    Doctor Dreyfuss [to C. C. Baxter]: Be a mensch!

  • 2005, Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty, Bloomsbury Publishing, page 428:
    Lionel Kessler, relaxing perhaps on a Louis Quinze day bed, garlanded all round with lines of beauty, seeing welcome proof that his clever maligned young friend was a mensch.

  • 2008 December 28, George Solomon, “My Little Red Book”, The Washington Post, page D01:
    Olie Kolzig: Goalie for the Washington Capitals who spent most of 16 seasons between the pipes for the team until being released in 2008. Had the longest career of any Capital. Now plays for Tampa Bay. The ultimate mensch, in my book.

Edit two years later in reply to comments. No, this word does not have to be spoken to someone with a certain cultural baggage. Here is what Steve Martin tweeted earlier today:

I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

This went out to 5.2 million followers, not a homogenous bunch by any measure, then got retweeted 50000 times, then picked up by traditional media outlets all over the world.

Mr. Martin does not exactly have a track record of not knowing when to use which word, and we cannot with a straight face claim that everyone who read his message shares the same cultural baggage.

Even more to the point, even if every single recipient did have to look up any word in that message because it was somehow obscure — now it no longer is.

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    This word has a lot of cultural connotations as well, which would make it equivalent to 'have integrity' only when spoken by and to a person who shares in the same cultural baggage. From the mouths of others, it will sound out of place. – Raissa Apr 27 '12 at 5:13
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    @Raissa: Who are these "others" you speak of? Most people I know understand the term and its connotations implicitly. – Robusto Dec 13 '13 at 20:50

Looking in some dictionaries, it seems there is no such word. There is integer in German, though, and íntegro in Spanish, both of which have the intended meaning. English translations that come up are upright and honourable, but nothing like integer or integral or anything like that.

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    Both integer and integral are perfectly good English words; it's just that their meaning isn't even remotely close to what the OP wants. – Marthaª Nov 16 '10 at 18:16
  • You're right, I didn't explain that properly... – cambraca Nov 16 '10 at 18:18

While the use of the word "integrous" or "integrious" (variations of an adjective form of "integrity") is commonly used in spoken American English, especially in educational and professional forums, it is not commonly used in written American English - hence the lack of inclusion in dictionaries.

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  • Hi @nfinney, welcome to EL&U! Your answer seems more of a comment since it doesn't answer the OP's question. You may consider editing your answer to address the question or delete your answer and add it as a comment. – Kristina Lopez Feb 20 '13 at 19:02
  • @KristinaLopez: also it seems counter to all experience. I've never heard of either, and wouldn't recognize them if heard. – Mitch Feb 20 '13 at 20:00
  • @Mitch, I hadn't heard of either either (wow! how often can you use 2 either's together?) until I read Kris' answer. (another Kris) – Kristina Lopez Feb 20 '13 at 20:07

I use "integrity" with information a good deal. If information has integrity, it is "reliable" and/or "valid." For a person, I'd probably refer to them as "reliable" if they display integrity.

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Not really the correct connotation when describing a person, but yeah. That's the adjective form of the noun "integrity."

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    Do you have a source that supports this? – SAH Jan 8 '16 at 5:21

I would go with trustworthy, meaning "able to be relied upon as a person of integrity".

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