By Dulcianna, age 11

The other day I received a letter signed: “Sincerely yours”.

Sincerely – wow that is a big word! I thought I knew what it meant, but I wanted to be sure. So I went to the dictionary, looked it up and discovered that sincere comes from the Latin words sine=without and cera=wax. Yes, sincere originally meant without wax.

But why would I want or need a letter without wax? I mean I know some ladies wax their legs and others put wax or jell in their hair but why on a letter?

After a little more research, I discovered that before envelopes, people sealed letters using wax. They folded the paper over, dripped wax on it and pushed the two edges together to seal the letter closed, so no one could look at it.

But how is it that nowadays “sincere” means heartfelt, or genuine. It turns out in the old days, merchants would sometimes take broken plates, cups or dishes and repair them with wax. No, they did not have super glue. They used wax, like from a candle. Heat the wax until it turned to liquid. Pour the liquid on the break and hold the two pieces together. The item is as good as new until you put something hot on it and the wax melts again! Then you have a mess!

So when a shopkeeper said an item for sale was “sincere”, he was saying that it was real, unbroken without cracks or repairs. It was genuine.

So now you know if you get a letter signed “Sincerely yours”, the writer is telling you they are honest and genuine, that their feelings are heartfelt and true.

Are you sincere? Are you nice? Are you without wax?

I sincerely hope you liked this story and are without wax when you speak or deal with other people.

The Daily Herald

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