nep·​o·​tism | \ ˈne-pə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce nepotism (audio) \

Definition of nepotism

: favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship accused the company of fostering nepotism in promotions

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Other Words from nepotism

nepotistic \ ˌne-​pə-​ˈti-​stik How to pronounce nepotistic (audio) \ adjective

Nepotism Has Papal Origins

During his papacy from 1471-1484, Sixtus IV granted many special favors to members of his family, in particular his nephews. This practice of papal favoritism was carried on by his successors, and in 1667 it was the subject of Gregorio Leti's book Il Nepotismo di Roma-titled in the English translation, The History of the Popes' Nephews. Shortly after the book's appearance, nepotism began to be used in English for the showing of special favor or unfair preference to any relative by someone in any position of power, be it ecclesiastical or not. (The "nep-" spelling is from nepote, a 17th-century variant of Italian nipote, meaning "nephew.")

Examples of nepotism in a Sentence

Nepotism has hurt the company.
Recent Examples on the Web In an industry that often runs on nepotism and connections, CAPE has become an incubator for indie talents. NBC News, "Read about the Asian American screenplays that didn't get produced," 19 June 2020 Absent the influence of nepotism, Kushner might have been denied a clearance or been fired because his application omitted contacts with foreign governments. Walter M. Shaub Jr., The New York Review of Books, "Ransacking the Republic," 17 June 2020 The owners lazily and arrogantly stick to the good ol’ boy network and nepotism when filling the most powerful positions in their organizations. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Roger Goodell's 'We, the NFL' statement was good. But owners' actions will matter more.," 6 June 2020 The fruits of nepotism did not end with the gig itself. James Marcus, The New Yorker, "What Is There to Love About Longfellow?," 1 June 2020 Or a new hire, incompetent for the work, brought on board via the nepotism of the franchise owner. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "When the Checkpoints Come," 19 Mar. 2020 Pam Bondi is making the case that nepotism involving government officials is bad. TheWeek, "Trump's lawyers attack the Bidens during impeachment trial," 27 Jan. 2020 Sputter as the pundits may, the fact is that nepotism has been a part of politics as long as there has been such a thing as politics. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "Nepotism: A User’s Guide," 30 Oct. 2019 Back in Morelos, the governor, whose critics accuse him of nepotism and corruption, has accused Capella of misappropriating funds in a separate matter, and said that his officers used excessive force. New York Times, "The violence in Mexico is the worst it’s been since," 9 Mar. 2020

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

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First Known Use of nepotism

1670, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nepotism

French népotisme, from Italian nepotismo, from nepote nephew, from Latin nepot-, nepos grandson, nephew — more at nephew

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The first known use of nepotism was in 1670

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Last Updated

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nepotism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce nepotism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nepotism

disapproving : the unfair practice by a powerful person of giving jobs and other favors to relatives

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