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Hypocrisy ( hypocrisy ) describes behavior that is morally or ethically negatively charged, in which a person externally conveys an image of himself that does not correspond to his real self. The underlying verb hypocrite originally comes from the dog's submissive crouching and crawling ( Middle High German  hūchen ) and was transferred to pretended, flattering behavior.

The philosopher and theologian Friedrich Kirchner defined hypocrisy as "a disguise of the true and false pretense of a praiseworthy disposition that does not exist in the person concerned, arising from selfish interests " and states that a hypocrite wants to appear better than he is, "in order to attract the mighty liked ”and“ to profit from it ”. "Political, religious, ethical principles in order to get ahead" are hypocritical, be it out of cowardice, to earn a living or to "serve in love". In his opinion, the hypocrisy would be “easily awakened by despotic regiment in state and church”, whereby “strict state laws” and “orthodox religious edicts” would not make humanity “good and pious” but rather hypocritical.


Essential characteristics of hypocrisy are the pretense of non-existent feelings or states of mind and the demand for forms of behavior that are not observed themselves. This is often illustrated with the pictorial saying from Heinrich Heine ( Germany. A Winter's Tale ): "Publicly preach water and secretly drink wine" . Hypocrisy in this sense is also referred to as hypocrisy or double standards; it is in contrast to personal integrity , since there is a contradiction between expressed and lived values. Either the person hypocritical in this sense does not live the values ​​that he describes as right, or he describes values ​​as right that he actually perceives to be wrong.

These characteristics of hypocrisy coincide when indignation is hypocritical, that is, an emotion that arises from a value judgment. What both types of hypocrisy have in common is the contrast between what is expressed (expressed emotion or expressed moral judgment) and actual judgment (actual emotion or one's own behavior) about an issue. Bigotry describes the apparent (thus faked) "holiness" ( hypocritical in the actual, narrower sense).

Marked Adelung International Dictionary of the High German dialect hypocritical in the 18th century as

“The outward appearance of holiness, d. i. the fear of God , accepting and having without really being him. A hypocrite, a hypocrite, who in common life is also called a head hanger, in Lower Saxony a biblical bearer, church clerk, saint eater, holy biteer, etc. A hypocritical behavior. "

- Adelung, grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect. Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, p. 1403.


  • Ute Seiderer: Hypocrites. In: Network “Bodies in Cultural Studies” (Ed.): What can a body do? Practices and figurations of the body in cultural studies. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / Main u. New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-593-39641-5 , Figurations Dept., pp. 95-100.
  • Wilhelm Pfaffenhausen: Hypocrisy - the lubricant of our society. RG Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-8301-1430-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: hypocrisy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. hypocrisy , hypocrisy - Duden , Bibliographical Institute , 2019
  2. hypocrisy , hypocrisy - DWDS , 2020; for the common origin of the word there under the foreign word etymology
  3. ^ Entry hypocrisy. In: Friedrich Kirchner : Dictionary of basic philosophical terms. 1907 ( textlog.de ).
  4. Adelung, Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect. Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, p. 1403 ( zeno.org ).