Printable Version
Pronunciation: hi-pah-krê-si Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Feigning to be what you are not, pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not have.

Notes: Just remember that even though the first syllable sounds like hip, it is spelled with a Y and although the third syllable is a schwa, it is spelled I. The adjective is hypocritic(al) with an optional -al. The optional -al, even though not pronounced, must be spelled in the adverb: hypocritically. A person who is hypocritical is a hypocrite [hi-pê-krit].

In Play: Hypocrisy abounds all around us: "The old adage, 'Do as I say and not as I do', proves that hypocrisy is alive and well in the family." It occurs where we expect it and where we do not: "We all expect hypocrisy in politics but recent scandals in the Church prove it is at home there, too."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French ypocrisie (modern French hypocrisie) and was originally spelled ipocrisi in Old English. The spelling with H arose in the 16th century. Ypocrisie was passed down to French from Latin hypocrisis, borrowed from Greek hypokrisis "stage acting, feigning, pretense". The Greek word comprises hypo "under" + krinein "to sift; decide, judge". Hypo is the Greek result of PIE upo "(from) under", source also of Latin sub "under" (from ex "[out] from" + upo), English up, and German auf "on", über "over" and ob "if, whether". Krinein was based on PIE krei-/kroi- "to sift, separate, divide", source also of Latin cribrum "sieve" and crimen "judgment, crime", Irish criathat "sieve", Welsh crwydr "sieve", and Russian kroit' "to cut out". (Now an unhypocritical round of e-applause for Eileen Opiolka, an unflagging contributor since 2009.)

Dr. Goodword,

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