I've just run into trailer where these two words 'art requires truth, not sincerity' delivered as different or even oposite

I didn't find any substantial difference between words truth and sincerity on Oxford dictionary


Could you please explain to me what the difference between these two words (truth vs sincerity)

  • 2
    "Truth" is not comparable to "sincerity", but "truthfulness" might be. (n.b.: This is a dumbing-down of Colin's answer below.) Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


Max. I'm puzzled why your dictionary doesn't help you distinguish them, because they're quite different.

Truth is a property of an utterance, whether or not it corresponds with objective (or sometimes subjective) reality.

Sincerity is a property of a person communicating, whether or not they believe in the truth of what they're saying.

If I tell you that John has left, but I am mistaken and he is still here, my statement is not true, but I am sincere.

If I think that John is still here, but tell you he has left, and I am wrong and he has indeed left, then my statement is true, but I am not sincere.

  • 6
    Curiously, there does seem to be a potential difference between sincerely and faithfully. If we're told the ambassador presented his government's argument sincerely, we'd probably assume he truly believed in the rightness of that position, and/or his presentation was passionate. But if he presented it faithfully, although we'd know it was an accurate presentation, we might be inclined to suspect the ambassador didn't really endorse it (but he had to set it out, because that's his job). Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 16:44
  • Don't shoot the messenger.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:41
  • @FumbleFingers I know you can't edit your post now but your excellent example clearly shows that the exact senses of sincerely and faithfully are different, not "potentially" so. Sincerity is measured against one's own belief; faithful against loyalty to one's duty to an idea or to another person.
    – lly
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 1:50
  • That said, why did you even bring it up? No one else seems to have mentioned it.
    – lly
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 1:51
  • 2
    @lly: I raised that distinction because this is a site for learners, and it seems to me dictionaries and etymological research might lead people to suppose sincere and faithful are both primarily concerned with [potentially subjective] belief rather than [objective] truth. That distinction should be easily grasped in respect of true/sincere, which may be why so many have upvoted Colin's answer (and in particular, the first sentence). Things aren't so obvious when we compare true/faithful, which often mean exactly the same thing. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 12:37

Excellent question. You can see that the definition of "sincerity" is:

The absence of pretence, deceit, or hypocrisy.

A sincere person believes they are telling the truth, but may themselves be mistaken, deluded, or deceived (by someone else).

In the context of the movie trailer, "Art" is meant to be about things that are true, from any point of view. No matter how sincere they are, a "real" artist must continually strive to break through preconceptions, misunderstandings, and delusions, and produce art that exposes underlying "truths".

Of course, this is still a vaguely sensational statement, meant to attract people to the movie. Whether it's a valid statement, or exactly how an artist produces truth, is for you to decide.

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