c. 1200, ipocrisie, "the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness," from Old French ypocrisie, from Late Latin hypocrisis "hypocrisy," also "an imitation of a person's speech and gestures," from Attic Greek hypokrisis "acting on the stage; pretense," metaphorically, "hypocrisy," from hypokrinesthai "play a part, pretend," also "answer," from hypo- "under" (see hypo-) + middle voice of krinein "to sift, decide" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). The sense evolution in Attic Greek is from "separate gradually" to "answer" to "answer a fellow actor on stage" to "play a part." The h- was restored in English 16c.
Hypocrisy is the art of affecting qualities for the purpose of pretending to an undeserved virtue. Because individuals and institutions and societies most often live down to the suspicions about them, hypocrisy and its accompanying equivocations underpin the conduct of life. Imagine how frightful truth unvarnished would be. [Benjamin F. Martin, "France in 1938," 2005]