Quite Frankly: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 6, 2023

The phrase "quite frankly" is used to indicate that someone is about to express their honest opinion, even if it might be blunt, harsh, or unpopular. You can use it as a way to introduce candid, straightforward, or potentially controversial remarks.

In short:

The idiom "quite frankly" is used to preface a statement that is honest and direct, potentially reflecting a viewpoint that is blunt, critical, or controversial.

What Does "Quite Frankly" Mean?

At its core, "quite frankly" serves as a signal that the speaker is about to deliver an unvarnished truth or a straightforward opinion. It often introduces statements that could be considered harsh, critical, or blunt.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • "Quite frankly" often introduces a statement that is honest and straightforward without sugarcoating or holding back information.
  • When using "quite frankly," the speaker emphasizes their personal viewpoint or strong feelings about the subject.
  • Although it introduces a critical or negative statement, it can also serve to soften the impact by acknowledging the honesty behind the statement.
  • The speaker signals that they are willing to share their thoughts and engage in an open discussion.

Where Does "Quite Frankly" Come From?

The phrase "quite frankly" is composed of two words: "quite," an adverb that is used to emphasize a statement, and "frankly," another adverb meaning "in an honest and direct manner." The exact origin of the combined phrase "quite frankly" is not clear, but its usage is common in the English language, particularly in contexts where people want to emphasize their candor or honesty.

Historical Usage

"However I will tell you quite frankly that I have no brother Ernest . I have no brother at all . I never had a brother in my life , and I certainly have not the smallest intention of ever having one in the future."

- The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde, 1899

10 Examples of "Quite Frankly" in Sentences

To better comprehend the idiom's usage, let's examine its use in a variety of contexts:

  • Trying to learn everything at once felt like, quite frankly, attempting to drink from a fire hose.
  • Quite frankly, I think we should reconsider our approach.
  • They were, quite frankly, destined for greatness from the very beginning.
  • Quite frankly, I find his behavior unacceptable.
  • She told him, quite frankly, that he needed to toe the line or face the consequences.
  • Quite frankly, your response to the situation was disappointing.
  • She admitted, quite frankly, that life isn't all rainbows and unicorns, and they should prepare for challenges.
  • We managed, quite frankly, to dodge a bullet by avoiding that risky investment.
  • Quite frankly, I think he acted out of spite rather than genuine concern.
  • I believe we are, quite frankly, the best team for the job.

Examples of "Quite Frankly" in Pop Culture

The phrase "quite frankly" has found its way into popular culture, making it a familiar phrase for many:

  • The phrase is used in the title of the ESPN show "Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith," highlighting the host's candid and forthright style.
  • "We'll be honest about the matter: we've (in fact) scratched our head for decades (every bit that) and abandoned it, quite frankly, for want of intelligence," is a quote from the 2013 book Books of Fools by Terry Reed.
  • Quite Frankly" is a comedy web series from 2016 by Louis Moore and Julian Ramundi.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Quite Frankly"

There are several synonyms and phrases that can be used as alternatives to "quite frankly," depending on the context:

  • Honestly
  • To be blunt
  • To tell you the truth
  • In all honesty
  • Straight up
  • Directly
  • Openly
  • Candidly

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Quite Frankly":

  • What is the meaning of "quite frankly"?

"Quite frankly" is used to preface a statement that is honest and direct. It often introduces a candid opinion or blunt truth.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "quite frankly"?

"Quite frankly" is a common English phrase. It combines the adverb "quite," which emphasizes a statement, with "frankly," another adverb meaning "in an honest and direct manner."

  • Does "quite frankly" have negative connotations?

Not necessarily. While "quite frankly" often introduces blunt or critical statements, its connotation depends on the context and the specific statement being made.

  • Can I use "quite frankly" in formal writing?

Yes, "quite frankly" can be used in formal writing, but care should be taken as it often introduces strong or potentially controversial viewpoints.

  • How can I replace "quite frankly" in a sentence?

You can replace "quite frankly" with phrases like "honestly," "to be blunt," or "in all honesty," depending on the context.

  • Is "quite frankly" an American idiom?

"Quite frankly" is used in various English-speaking regions, not just America. It's a common phrase in the English language overall.

  • Do people use it in everyday conversation?

Yes, "quite frankly" is commonly used in both casual and formal conversation whenever someone wants to emphasize their candidness or honesty.

  • Can I use "quite frankly" to soften a harsh statement?

While "quite frankly" does provide a sort of preface to a potentially harsh statement, it doesn't necessarily soften the impact of the statement itself. It more serves to prepare the listener for a candid or blunt remark.

  • Can I use it to describe people?

While "quite frankly" isn't typically used to describe individuals, it can be used to introduce a direct statement or opinion about a person.

  • Can I use "quite frankly" in an ironic or sarcastic manner?

Yes, like many phrases, "quite frankly" can be used ironically or sarcastically to imply the opposite of its literal meaning. The specific intent would largely depend on the speaker's tone and context.

Final Thoughts About "Quite Frankly"

"Quite frankly" is a useful phrase for emphasizing the honesty and directness of a statement.

  • The idiom is quite flexible and suitable for both casual and formal conversation.
  • Its meaning can vary based on context and introduce either positive or negative statements.
  • While "quite frankly" is direct, it doesn't necessarily soften the impact of the statements it introduces.

So, the next time you wish to express your opinion in an unfiltered manner, feel free to preface it with "quite frankly." It will signal to your listener that a sincere and possibly provocative statement is about to follow.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy