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 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 arrival of Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix in India has been a boon to directors and writers like Narain, who had long languished on the fringes of Bollywood — an industry often accused of nepotism. Diksha Madhok, CNN, "Netflix and Amazon gave daring Indian filmmakers hope. Now that's turning to fear," 27 Mar. 2021 Allegations of nepotism, selective enforcement and excessive force have swirled around the Albany County sheriff’s office for years, critics of the department say. New York Times, "Meet Wyoming’s New Black Sheriff, the First in State History," 22 Mar. 2021 The findings of the report revealed that nepotism remains alive and well in the NFL. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "NFL's 2021 diversity and inclusion report reveals progress in minority hiring on GM, coordinator levels," 26 Feb. 2021 Me: Apply to jobs via LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, or nepotism. Danielle Kraese, The New Yorker, "Advice My Parents Gave Me Versus Advice I Will Give My Kids," 22 Feb. 2021 One problem with nepotism in the NFL is that the results sometimes work. Star Tribune, "Vikings' hiring of Adam Zimmer, Klint Kubiak is part of the problem," 8 Feb. 2021 Later that same year, a whistle-blower at the Bronx Parent Housing Network informed city officials that his nepotism and financial entanglements were continuing. Amy Julia Harris, New York Times, "After Abuse Allegations, $2 Billion Shelter Network Faces Scrutiny," 7 Feb. 2021 Stevens is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, which is part of the UL System, and his appointment doesn’t technically violate state ethics rules against nepotism., "Gambit's Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down for Jan. 12," 11 Jan. 2021 An August report by the California State Personnel Board noted the department failed to have a nepotism policy. Mallory Moench,, "Black S.F. employees file racial discrimination lawsuit against city," 9 Dec. 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

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nepotism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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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