cro·​ny·​ism | \ ˈkrō-nē-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce cronyism (audio) \

Definition of cronyism

: partiality to cronies especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Did you know?

"Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him" (Ecclesiasticus 9:10). Practitioners of cronyism would probably agree. The word cronyism evolved in the 19th century as a spin-off of crony, meaning "friend" or "pal." Crony originated in England in the 17th century, perhaps as a play on the Greek word chronios, meaning "long-lasting," from chronos, meaning "time." Nineteenth-century cronyism was simply friendship, or the ability to make friends. The word didn't turn bad until the next century, when Americans starting using cronyism to refer to the act of playing political favorites.

Examples of cronyism in a Sentence

The mayor has been accused of cronyism.
Recent Examples on the Web During his rule, tens of thousands were arrested and thousands of his critics and opponents killed, while political allies benefited from rampant cronyism. Time, 10 May 2022 The Belarusian opposition wants to see tougher sanctions placed on Lukashenko, including asset freezes on cronyism allies and state firms along the lines of what the West has deployed against Putin and Russia. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 These can include cronyism/nepotism, discounting efforts, dismissing objections, making changes without giving explanations, and unequal workloads among team members. Alain Hunkins, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 The governing party, the African National Congress, once led by Archbishop Tutu’s close friend and ally, Nelson Mandela, has been hobbled by infighting and bitter accusations of corruption and cronyism. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2021 Corruption and cronyism has been hitting headlines around the world off the back of dubious procurement practices and a loosening of scrutiny brought about by the emergency situation. Rob Whiteman, Forbes, 17 June 2021 But the practice had fallen into disrepute, especially among conservatives, as a symbol of wasteful spending that was steered by cronyism rather than actual need. Arkansas Online, 12 Mar. 2022 Knox's remarks on the appearance of cronyism in the city's choice of firms begins around the 1:06:28 mark. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 2 Mar. 2022 Blanchette minutely documents the rise of groups on the Chinese Internet that have used Mao to criticize the increasingly capitalist policies of the party, which have produced cronyism and corruption on a vast scale, along with stark inequality. Howard W. French, The New York Review of Books, 12 Mar. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cronyism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Keep scrolling for more

First Known Use of cronyism

1840, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About cronyism

Time Traveler for cronyism

Time Traveler

The first known use of cronyism was in 1840

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About cronyism

Dictionary Entries Near cronyism

crony capitalism



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cronyism

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cronyism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on cronyism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cronyism


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!