The Possible Origins of the Words Sincere and Sincerely

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The origin of the word sincere is disputed, although popular etymology has it coming from Latin for 'without wax.'

Origins of the Words Sincere and Sincerely

It is commonly believed that sincere comes from two Latin wordssine "without" and cera "wax." Although even that much is challenged, there are two explanations for how 'without wax' came to be an important claim, both involving craftsmen, who during the Republic of Rome, would generally have either been enslaved or were foreigners. Some think that marble workers would cover imperfections in the stone with wax, much as unscrupulous antique dealers might rub wax to hide a scratch in wood.

Another idea for the origin of sincere has more ominous consequences. Since cement was more expensive than wax, there are stories that unprincipled bricklayers would sometimes employ wax instead of cement. When the wax melted, bricks could shift and structures collapse. So the claim that something was "sine cera," or without wax, would be an important guarantee.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word sincere may come from sem-, sin-, roots for "one" and crescere "growth."

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Gill, N.S. "The Possible Origins of the Words Sincere and Sincerely." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/possible-origins-of-sincere-and-sincerely-118268. Gill, N.S. (2020, August 27). The Possible Origins of the Words Sincere and Sincerely. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/possible-origins-of-sincere-and-sincerely-118268 Gill, N.S. "The Possible Origins of the Words Sincere and Sincerely." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/possible-origins-of-sincere-and-sincerely-118268 (accessed October 26, 2021).