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

Keep scrolling for more

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

However, his time in power was marred by allegations of wartime atrocities, corruption and nepotism. Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Seattle Times, "Sri Lanka lawmakers linked to disputed PM boycott Parliament," 27 Nov. 2018 That has deepened economic hardship in the region and increased anger against the region’s secular ruling parties, which have led the region for decades and are accused by many Kurds of corruption and nepotism. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Gunmen Attack Government Building in Northern Iraq," 23 July 2018 Liberia’s economy has grown enormously since the civil war but many feel Johnson Sirleaf could have achieved more; the president has been accused of nepotism and failing to crack down on corruption. Nick Powell, Houston Chronicle, "David Collins named winner over incumbent Maceo in closely contested Galveston council race," 14 May 2018 Ideally, many former Soviet ruling elites, including those in Armenia, would like to see the revolution fail.’’ The uprising sent a clear message that nepotism and corruption cannot prevail indefinitely, Gevorgyan said. Washington Post,, "Armenian Parliament elects opposition leader as prime minister," 8 May 2018 The biggest obstacles and difficulties are due to lack of state support, lack of courage and daring on the part of Spain’s publishing houses, the nepotism in the cultural media and favoritism in the culture in general. New York Times, "In Spain, Searching for Ancestors, Dry Wine and Calm Seas," 16 Jan. 2018 And though it might be seen as nepotism (Schwartzman is Coppola’s cousin), Schwartzman occupies the part with a sad clown grace that eventually leads to quiet resolve., "Why Marie Antoinette Is Really Mean Girls, Versailles Edition," 10 July 2018 As a result, areas exposed to the church for longer developed more impersonal norms, like individualism and impartial treatment, as opposed to obedience and nepotism. Kevin Lewis,, "Looking for negative signals," 6 July 2018 The term refers to the common use of nepotism and cronyism in daily life, especially in hiring. The Christian Science Monitor, "The source of Jordan’s river of discontent," 11 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nepotism

Listen to Our Podcast about nepotism

Dictionary Entries near nepotism








Statistics for nepotism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nepotism

The first known use of nepotism was in 1670

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nepotism



English Language Learners Definition of nepotism

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on nepotism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nepotism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nepotism

Spanish Central: Translation of nepotism

Nglish: Translation of nepotism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about nepotism

Comments on nepotism

What made you want to look up nepotism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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