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Honest to a fault

Posted by R. Berg on February 10, 2008 at 12:37:

In Reply to: Honest to a fault posted by RRC on February 10, 2008 at 12:36:

: : : : : There is an expression in Italian that roughly means "honest to a fault". It describes a market vendor who refuses to put his best produce up front and fill orders from the lesser stock - eventually going broke because he's the only honest vendor at market.

: : : : : Is there an equivalent English phrase/expression?

: : : : I unfortunately do not know the Italian expression, but I would have said, "Too honest for his own good." The phrase, "Honest to a fault," means honest to such a degree that it becomes a fault. But the phrase "to a fault" usually means as seen by someone else.

: : : : I can imagine "Honest to a fault" used of someone who is exaggeratedly truthful, but then one should say, "Truthful to a fault"--like a little sister who always rats you out, or a friend who can't help telling you how unbecoming your wardrobe is.
: : : : SS

: : : "Honest to a fault" might describe you if your paycheck is three cents too big and you feel compelled to call your employer's attention to the error. ~rb

: : I've heard "honest to a fault" in English, and it gets 86,000 Google hit, although many of these are related to a song of the same title. The meaning is the same in English - someone who is honest to the point where they do themselves an injustice. Pamela

: Umm... I think the original poster knows "honest to a fault" and is looking for a different phrase to match the definition of the (not given) Italian phrase which apparently means you are so honest that you cause your own ruin.

Yes, RRC, and English may not have an exact match. "Honest to a fault" lacks the implication of harming oneself through honesty. A person who is honest to a fault may suffer nothing worse than a reputation for being obsessed with trivial details of transactions. ~rb