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Is the usage sincerest gratitude wrong?Can we use such in acknowledgements?

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Many respectable dictionaries list sincerest, most of them sincerer as well. However few writers ever really use them except in an idiomatic/ literary sense. OP's context is fine for sincerest, there was even such a "standard phrase" used in telegrams. Not in formal writing, use most sincere instead. –  Kris Mar 24 at 10:02

3 Answers 3

Consider the common phrase sincerest form of flattery. Where I'm from I hear sincerest more often than most sincere, though it's close. I never hear sincerer. Google Ngrams trends the same as my personal experience, and it looks like there was a shift from most sincere to sincerest in the 1980s but the difference is negligible regardless:

most sincere vs sincerest & more sincere vs sincerer

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Never thought about this, but now that you mention it, yes. Sincere seems to have only one comparative (with most), but two superlatives in somewhat free variation. Interesting. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 24 at 9:05
    
So you say it's not a wrong usage? –  Blessytha Mar 24 at 9:38
    
@Edwin, uhhh, yes. More, of course. Slight brain fart there. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 24 at 9:42
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-1 Never use nGrams in isolation to draw conclusions. Use them for research, use them to support an argument, .... –  Kris Mar 24 at 9:48
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@Kris: Doesn't the sentence "Google Ngrams trends the same as my personal experience" imply, that here it was used to support an argument? –  skymninge Mar 24 at 10:50

"My most sincere gratitude" would be the most common form used. Superlative for long words tend to be made using more or most instead of the suffixes -er -est.

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How is "sincere" a long word? –  Avner Shahar-Kashtan Mar 24 at 8:49
    
The Ngrams Matt has dug out would indicate that this answer is at least partly incorrect. It is unwise to trot out rules of thumb to justify unsubstantiated ideas about how English should behave in particular cases. English is often unpredictable. 'Sincerest' is commonly used, though not 'sincerer'. Arguably, 'sincere' is a classifying (or perhaps absolute) adjective (one is either sincere or not) so the fact that it grades at all is perverse. And although I'd go with 'My most sincere gratitude', if I had to chose, I'd certainly switch to 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 24 at 9:11
    
@EdwinAshworth Why not sincerer? And I find that I correct guessed what led you astray. –  Kris Mar 24 at 9:47
    
@Kris Pardon? I'd say that 'sincerest' is just a pragmatic adaptation of 'sincere' – it's like underlining it, it's not a true superlative. We have the model 'merest' = 'mere'. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 24 at 9:55
    
I was referring to my earlier comment under your answer. –  Kris Mar 24 at 9:59

Perhaps more appropriate Ngrams (English being so unpredictable) are these.

These suggest that (and my opinion is in agreement, but more data would be more persuasive):

1) 'Sincerest' is preferred to 'most sincere', though both are in use.

2) The degree of preference is dependent on the following noun group. With '... form of', the periphrastic alternative is much less frequently used.

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'Sincerest form of' is idiomatic, probably from sincerest form of flattery. There seems to be no other reason to prefer the expression over 'most sincere form of' other than the usual difference between the -est and *most * forms of a superlative. –  Kris Mar 24 at 9:45
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All of English is idiomatic. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 24 at 9:52
    
Ha! All language is; all expression indeed is. Life is, of course. –  Kris Mar 24 at 9:59
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I wonder why there was so much sincere gratitude between 1825 and 1835...? –  user568458 Mar 24 at 15:02
    
Well that is just after the Era of Good Feelings... –  Oldcat Mar 24 at 23:43

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