But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Matthew 23:13 

I want to discuss three levels of meaning when it comes to the word hypocrite. 

hyp·o·crite  /ˈhipəˌkrit/ υποκρίνομαι
The standard definition is that of person who says one thing and does the opposite, specifically implying that the speech is positive while the action is negative.

The actor
I've often heard the word hypocrite etomologized with the explanation that the word in Greek means "actor", and so a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something they are not. This is true in that a meaning of the word can be someone who recites before a crowd. 

Full analysis 
The root of the word hypocrite is kρίνω (krino) which means either judge or interpret. We have it in English in our word "critical", in fact, in Matthew 7:1-5 Christ commands us to "Judge not", the root word he uses is the same kρίνω. Another frequent use of the root is the word ἀποκριθεὶς (apokritheis) usually translated as “answered” which always confused me, since quite often, Christ would "answer" someone who hadn't asked a question. A better translation might be "Christ expounded his well thought out views on the matter". Better in meaning, but not perhaps in succinctness. This concept of expounding is how the word comes to mean "actor" since an actor will stand and make a speech. The problem is that this usage of the word is later than the New Testament.

The word hypocrite breaks down into two Greek words hypo and crite. I've explained that "crite" means judge. The prefix "hypo" is found in our other Greek words in English like hypoglycemia "low sugar" and hypodermic "under the skin". So the word hypocrite might be translated as "poor judge". 

This helps many of the passages where hypocrite is used but it is not apparent from the text that the scribes or Pharisees are actually acting in a contrary manner to what they are teaching. Perhaps they are just rushing to a judgement on the law or their fellow man. In some passages it happens to be the case that , but this broader meaning allows for us readers of the New Testament to not judge where we don't have full understanding.

Knowing this does not mean you can go around to people in your daily life and explain that they use the word "hypocrite" incorrectly. The thing with language, is that if 90% of people you ask believe that a word means one thing, then that's what the word means. Also, it's obvious that English speakers need the word hypocrite as we use it. It's been a part of English in that aspect since the middle ages.

For more information see The Anchor Bible: Matthew by W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann cxv - cxxiii.

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