feath·​er·​bed·​ding ˈfe-t͟hər-ˌbe-diŋ How to pronounce featherbedding (audio)
: the requiring of an employer usually under a union rule or safety statute to hire more employees than are needed or to limit production

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Progressives under Obama and Biden see the Pentagon more as a vehicle for social policy and geopolitical featherbedding than as an instrument of deterrence and the national interest. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 28 May 2022 The federal commission charged with commemorating 250 years of American independence in 2026 is at war with itself over allegations of featherbedding, favoritism and misappropriation of taxpayer funds. Jess Bravin, wsj.com, 19 Mar. 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

1921, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of featherbedding was in 1921

Dictionary Entries Near featherbedding

Cite this Entry

“Featherbedding.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/featherbedding. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Legal Definition


feath·​er·​bed·​ding ˈfe-t͟hər-ˌbe-diŋ How to pronounce featherbedding (audio)
: the unfair labor practice of causing an employer to pay for services which are not performed (as by requiring more workers than necessary) see also Labor Management Relations Act

from the notion of making oneself comfortable through the receipt of excessive or unjustified compensation for little or no work

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