The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.  2000.
 
sincere
 
  1. Not feigned or affected; genuine: sincere indignation. 2. Being without hypocrisy or pretense; true: a sincere friend. 3. Archaic Pure; unadulterated.

"At a certain point in its history the moral life of Europe added a new element, the state or quality of self which we call sincerity. The word as we now use it refers to a congruence between avowed [expressed, stated] and actual [real, inner] feeling. . . . The sincerity of Achilles or Beowulf cannot be discussed: they neither have nor lack sincerity. But if we ask whether young Werther is really as sincere as he intends to be, or which of the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor or Marianne, is thought by Jane Austen to be the more truly sincere, we can confidently expect a serious response in the form of opinions on both sides of the questions. There is a moment in Hamlet which has a unique and touching charm. Polonius is speeding Laertes on his way to Paris with paternal advice . . .:

This above all: to thine own self be true
And it doth follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

We naturally try to understand that concluding sentence in a way that make it consort with our low opinion of the speaker . . . . , [b]ut the sentence will not submit to this reading. Our impulse to make its sense consistent with our general view of Polonius is defeated by the way the lines sound, by their lucid moral lyricism. This persuades us that Polonius has had a moment of self-transcendence, of grace and truth." (Lionell Trilling, excerpt from Sincerity and Authenticity 2-3.)

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