Sincerity is the virtue of one who speaks truly about his or her own feelings, thoughts, desires. Sincere expression carries risks to the speaker, since the ordinary screens used in everyday life are opened to the outside world. At the same time, we expect our friends, our lovers, our leaders "to be sincere".

incerity in Western societies

Sincerity has not been consistently regarded as a virtue in Western culture.Fact|date=April 2008 First discussed by Aristotle in his "", it resurfaced to become an ideal (virtue) in Europe and North America in the 17th century; and it gained considerable momentum during the Romantic movement, when sincerity was first celebrated as an artistic and social ideal. Indeed, in mid- to late-nineteenth century America, sincerity was an idea reflected in mannerisms, hairstyles, women's dress, and the literature of the time.

More recently, sincerity has been under assault by several modern developments such as psychoanalysis and postmodern developments such as deconstruction.Fact|date=March 2007 Some scholars view sincerity as a construct rather than a moral virtue—although any virtue can be construed as a 'mere construct' rather than an actual phenomenon.

Literary critic Lionel Trilling dealt with the subject of sincerity, its roots, its evolution, its moral quotient, and its relationship to authenticity in a series of lectures published under the title "Sincerity and Authenticity".

Aristotle's views on sincerity


According to Aristotle "truthfulness or sincerity is a desirable mean state between the deficiency of irony or self-deprecation and the excess of boastfulness." [ [, Ethics, Section 4. Last visited, April 25, 2008.] ] [ [ Google Books Nicomachean Ethics, Book 4, p. 103, 1127b3-31 by Aristotle] ]

incerity in Confucian societies

Beyond the Western culture, sincerity is notably developed as a virtue in Confucian societies (China, Korea, and Japan). The concept of "chéng" (誠) as expounded in two of the Confucian classics, the "Da Xue" and the "Zhong Yong" is generally translated as "sincerity". As in the west, the term implies a congruence of avowal and inner feeling, but inner feeling is in turn ideally responsive to ritual propriety and social hierarchy. Thus, even today, a powerful leader will praise leaders of other realms as "sincere" to the extent that they "know their place". In Japanese the character for "cheng" may be pronounced "makoto", and carries still more strongly the sense of loyal avowal and belief.


The Oxford English Dictionary and most scholars state that "sincerity" from "sincere" is derived from the Latin "sincerus" meaning "clean, pure, sound" (1525–35). "Sincerus" may have once meant "one growth" (not mixed), from "sin-" (one) and "crescere" (to grow). "Crescere" derives from "Ceres," the goddess of grain, as in"cereal."ROB KYFF. "THE WHOLE BALL OF FACTS ABOUT WAX." Hartford Courant (Connecticut). LIFE; Pg. D2. April 17, 2002.] BOB EDWARDS. "ORIGIN OF THE WORD CEREAL." National Public Radio (NPR). SHOW: MORNING EDITION (11:00 AM on ET) October 21, 1999.]

According to the American Heritage Dictionary [ [] ] , the Latin word "sincerus" is derived from the Indo-European root "*sm̥kēros", itself derived from the zero-grade of "*sem" ("one") and the suffixed, lengthened e-grade of "*ker" ("grow"), generating the underlying meaning "of one growth", hence "pure, clean."


An often repeated folk etymology proposes that "sincere" is derived from the Latin "sine" = "without", "cera" = "wax". According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in Rome or Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer; therefore, a sculpture "without wax" would mean honesty in its perfection. Another explanation is that "without wax" etimology "is derived from a Greeks-bearing-gifts story of deceit and betrayal. For the feat of victory, the Romans demanded the handing over of obligatory tributes. Following bad advice, the Greeks resorted to some faux-marble statues made of wax, which they offered up as tribute. These promptly melted in the warm Greek sun." [Ruth Wajnryb. " [ If you hear buzzing, get the wax out of your ears] "; WORDS. Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). SPECTRUM; Books; Pg. 32. November 18, 2006. ]

The Oxford English Dictionary states, however, that "There is no probability in the old explanation from sine cera 'without wax'". Also note the entry on "sincere" in [ "An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language"] by Walter William Skeat (p. 555) and [,M1 "Storied Words: The Writer's Vocabulary and Its Origins"] By Jeff Jeske (p. 145). The "without wax" etymology is popular enough to be a minor subplot in Dan Brown's Digital Fortress, though Brown attributes it to the Spanish language, not Latin.


ee also

*A 1912 novel by Warwick Deeping is also called "Sincerity".

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sincerity — Sin*cer i*ty, n. [L. sinceritas: cf. F. sinc[ e]rit[ e].] The quality or state of being sincere; honesty of mind or intention; freedom from simulation, hypocrisy, disguise, or false pretense; sincereness. [1913 Webster] I protest, in the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sincerity — index candor (straightforwardness), honesty, integrity, probity, truth, veracity Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • sincerity — (n.) 1540s, from M.Fr. sincérité (early 16c.), from L. sinceritatem (nom. sinceritas), from sincerus sound, pure, whole, perhaps originally of one growth (i.e. not hybrid, unmixed ), from sem , sin one + root of crescere to grow (see CRESCENT (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • sincerity — [n] straightforwardness, honesty artlessness, bona fides, candor, earnestness, frankness, genuineness, good faith, goodwill, guilelessness, heart, honor, impartiality, innocence, justice, openness, probity, reliability, seriousness, sincereness,… …   New thesaurus

  • sincerity — [sin ser′ə tē] n. [MFr sincérité < L sinceritas] the quality or state of being sincere; honesty, genuineness, good faith, etc …   English World dictionary

  • sincerity — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ complete, deep, great, total, utmost ▪ genuine, heartfelt ▪ fake, false …   Collocations dictionary

  • sincerity — n. 1) to demonstrate, show sincerity 2) (misc.) to doubt smb. s sincerity; in all sincerity * * * [sɪn serɪtɪ] in all sincerity show sincerity (misc.) to doubt smb. s sincerity to demonstrate …   Combinatory dictionary

  • sincerity — sin|cer|i|ty [ sın serəti ] noun uncount an honest way of behaving that shows that you really mean what you say or do: He s like a politician who wants to convince you of his sincerity. in all sincerity MAINLY BRITISH used for showing that you… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sincerity — noun (U) 1 the quality of honestly believing something or really meaning what you say: I don t doubt her sincerity, but I think she s got her facts wrong. 2 in all sincerity formal very sincerely: May I say in all sincerity that your support has… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • sincerity — noun 1. an earnest and sincere feeling (Freq. 2) • Syn: ↑earnestness, ↑seriousness • Derivationally related forms: ↑sincere, ↑earnest (for: ↑earnestness) …   Useful english dictionary

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