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

Other Words from nepotism

nepotistic \ ˌne-​pə-​ˈti-​stik How to pronounce nepotism (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 The primary night results will also show the power of name recognition -- and, critics say, nepotism -- as Rob Menendez, son of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, seeks his party's nomination for the 8th Congressional District. ABC News, 8 June 2022 How much longer can the company maintain its unique and highly successful nepotism? Matt Durot, Forbes, 4 June 2022 No sanctimonious emphasis is required to note the irony of that message coming from a family for whom nepotism is as natural as breathing. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 May 2022 Others, like nepotism, which is the instinct to prioritize your own family over the interests of others, have been disregarded since the Enlightenment, says Hughes. Stav Dimitropoulos, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 Tinkov claimed in colorful language that Russian generals woke up from their hangovers to realize that the army was awful and, like the rest of Russia, plagued by nepotism, servility and flunkies., 19 Apr. 2022 At the same time, this genius who spouts principle at least brushed with nepotism in Tesla’s $2.6-billion bailout of SolarCity, a solar installer that was founded by two of his cousins. Dale Buss, Forbes, 1 May 2022 While hiring a family member is permitted by UK’s nepotism policy, that does not mean all potential conflicts are no longer issues. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 1 Mar. 2022 The review found existing nepotism policies at both the city and department level could potentially be insufficient, according to the presentation. Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Online, 27 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About nepotism

Time Traveler for nepotism

Time Traveler

The first known use of nepotism was in 1670

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About nepotism

Dictionary Entries Near nepotism




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nepotism

Last Updated

11 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nepotism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
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!