• candid •
Pronunciation: kæn-did • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Open, frank and honest, not in the least candied or sugar-coated. 2. Without pretense, posing or rehearsal, impromptu, as a candid photograph.
Notes: Today's little word has an odd noun derived from it, candor, though should its brevity and beauty not appeal to you, candidness is also available. The adverb is quite normal, candidly. Voltaire assigned the named Candide to the chief protagonist of his satiric play of the same name because of the character's openness and simplicity.
In Play: Candor implies pulling no punches in speaking or writing on a topic: "Thank you, Reggie. If I had wanted a candid assessment of my work, I would have asked my wife." Candor also implies honesty: "I think Robin Banks was less than candid when he told you that he acquired his fortune by winning the lottery."
Word History: Today's Good Word came to us, via French, from Latin candidus "white, pure, guileless", based on the verb candere "to shine". Something that shines a little is a candle, a noun derived from the same Latin verb. Candid may be the last word you would expect to find in the word candidate, given the nature of many political candidates in the US, but there it is. The reason is that Romans seeking public office wore white togas as an indication of their intentions and, as we just saw, candidus was the Latin word for "white". We also find this root with an E instead of A in incense and incendiary. Frankincense comes from an Old French phrase franc "free" + encens "incense", touched up a bit by English. (To be perfectly candid with all of you, we owe a word of gratitude to Harry Walter for suggesting today's Good Word.)