The Possible Origins of the Words 'Sincere' and 'Sincerely'

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

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 been slaves or foreigners.

Some think that marble workers would cover imperfections in the stone with wax, much as modern homemakers or 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, unscrupulous bricklayers would sometimes employ it—at least that's the story. When it melted, bricks could shift and structures collapse. So the claim that something was 'sine cera' would be an important guarantee.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says it 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, Oct. 30, 2017, thoughtco.com/possible-origins-of-sincere-and-sincerely-118268. Gill, N.S. (2017, October 30). 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 April 22, 2018).