Learn English – The origin of Yours Sincerely and Yours Faithfully

etymologyletter-writing

It is common knowledge that Yours sincerely is the phrase used to end a formal letter that is sent to a particular person. And Yours faithfully is used at the end of a formal letter beginning with "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam".

What's the origin of the phrases and why are they used this way? Why isn't it the other way round, i.e. Yours sincerely for an unknown recipient and Yours faithfully for a particular person?

Thank you!

Best Answer

I was taught that a business letter should end as yours faithfully (as in "I remain your faithful servant"), and personal letters should end as yours sincerely (" as in I am your sincere friend".) But of course that was back in the day when schools concentrated more on learning social interaction than policing lunch boxes and gender fluidity.