How are these words different and when to use them?

I assume honesty is more casual and the other two are more proper and used more often in writing than speaking?

It is just my speculation that honesty is more casual because it is used more often than the other two words, this is simply verified via google search. The keyword "honesty" returns more results than the other two.

It seems to me that veracity is often used with an event rather than a person (by reading the news here)

Integrity seems to cover more aspect of person's quality than honesty (defined here and the answered by Andrew below).


2 Answers 2


I assume you mean these three as applied to people. "Integrity", for example, means something different (but metaphorically related) when applied to something like a building.

Honesty generally refers to truthfulness, someone who tells the truth and is free from deceit.

As a boy, John's honesty was without question: although no one saw him damage the neighbor's yard, he came forward and told his parents that he was the one who did it.

Integrity generally refers to soundness of moral character, including such things as honesty, reliability, decency, and sincerity. Like a strong building, someone with integrity can be relied on to say what they mean, to do what they say, and to know right from wrong.

Even though her colleagues were making enormous amounts of money, she had too much integrity to sell a product she knew was too much of a financial risk for her customers.

Veracity generally refers to accuracy and correctness. It it generally applied to things or events, but when applied to people it is synonymous with "honesty".

The veracity of a story does not depend on how many people believe it to be true. Instead, we have to look at the facts to determine what really happened.

If you specifically want to say a person is truthful, then use "honest". If you want to talk about their overall character, then use "integrity". Again, "veracity" probably is best used for objects, not people, especially since there are many other words available.

Related nouns: sincerity, probity, rectitude, truthfulness, incorruptibility, righteousness, honor, candor, trustworthiness, fidelity

Related adjectives: sincere, truthful, incorruptible, righteous, honorable, principled, virtuous, moral, trustworthy


Honesty and sincerity relate to what a person believes to be true. It doesn't matter what that person believes. As long as what he says and does is consistent with that belief the person is honest and sincere, but possibly wrong.

Veracity relates to objective reality, what is true. If what a person says is consistent with what is true, then it could be verified by an objective person if one were present.

In a court setting, the phrase "nothing but the truth" illustrates the difference between honesty and veracity.

Honesty in this situation is a function of what a witnesses best interpretation of what an experience of what object or event was. It's a subjective opinion that contains more than facts.

In an adversarial court system the roles of the attorneys are to identify facts from the evidence and testimony which favor their positions as defense or prosecution.

In the US system, presumed innocence, uncertainty of fact is the basis of an objective defense. In a system of assumed guilt, a defense must prove that the charged person could not have committed the offense, or another person did.

Both these depend on identifying the objective reality.

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