• Completely correct and virtuous moral character


Morality can be a tricky business. The definition of "ethical behavior" varies from person to person, culture to culture, and even among different situations! Plus, once you've finally sorted out what the right thing might actually be, there's the challenge of incorporating it into your daily life. This is far easier said than done, as you might know if you've ever struggled to figure out how much (if anything) you can afford to donate to a worthy cause. Living an upstanding life is exhausting. That's why probity - the quality of outstanding moral character - is so valuable. It's impossible to be morally perfect, but the effort to maintain probity is worthy of appreciation.

Probity describes the traits of strict morality and stand-out integrity. Someone who possesses probity would be the last person you'd expect to tell a lie or accept a bribe. That's because the word implies a sense of unflinching obedience to moral codes. People with probity always try their hardest to act with absolute decency and to do the right thing in all situations; while the "right thing" might vary from person to person, someone with probity will always seek the most honorable action they can. Sometimes, saying that someone has probity is a more general, shortened way of saying that they have good character.

Example: After noticing a disturbing similarity between the two student's test answers, the teacher had no choice but to question their probity.

Example: The new judge had been chosen for the position in no small part because of his reputation for probity.


The origins of probity trace all the way back to Latin - we swear we're telling the truth! Starting from the Latin adjective probus, which translates to "decent" or "virtuous," the word would eventually make its way into Middle French as probité, a noun meaning "goodness" or "morality." Probity was first seen in English during the fifteenth century.

In Literature

From Benjamin Franklin's The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: was, therefore, every one's interest to be virtuous who wished to be happy even in this world; and I should, from this circumstance…have endeavored to convince young persons that no qualities were so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.

Here, Franklin is describing how it is "every one's interest to be virtuous who wishe[s] to be happy even in this world." Moral rectitude leads to happiness, and so, according to Franklin, probity is considered to be a valuable trait.


  • Probity's probably telling the truth
  • Probe me all you want; you'll never disprove my probity!


Honesty, Morals, Ethics

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of probity. Did you use probity in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.