Though an old wives tale, the fanciful history of the phrase “without wax” is still an interesting one. “Without wax” stems from the Latin words “sin” (without) and “ceras” (wax) and was often said (albeit incorrectly) to be the origin of the English word “sincerity.” The story went that the phrase “without wax” first became widespread during the height of Roman and Greek artistry, when sculptures first became a popular artistic medium. When a sculpture had a flaw, artists would fill in the chip or crack with colored wax to match the marble. Wax was said to serve as cover-up, masking imperfections on what was most likely cheap pottery. An arguably perfect or quality piece of work was therefore “without wax.” Pottery pieces were even said to be stamped with the phrase “without wax” as proof of authenticity.

Unfortunately, there is not much (or really any) evidence that any of the above is true. The Oxford English Dictionary says the etymology of the English word “sincerity” actually derives from the Latin “sincerus,” meaning a clean or pure sound. The story of  “without wax” seems therefore to be no more than a folk tale.

Regardless of its historic accuracy, the message generated by “without wax” remains a good one. “Without wax” exemplifies the ideal: a perfection in honesty... the virtue in speaking true.


History of “Without Wax”

Sin Ceras... an educational blog.