pa·​tron·​age | \ˈpa-trə-nij, ˈpā- \

Definition of patronage 

1 : advowson

2 : the support or influence of a patron the patronage of science by universities

3 : kindness done with an air of superiority The prince deigned to bestow his patronage on the composer.

4 : business or activity provided by patrons the new branch library is expected to have a heavy patronage

5a : the power to make appointments to government jobs especially for political advantage oust his enemies from office and use the patronage to support his policies— H. K. Beale

b : the distribution of jobs on the basis of patronage The governor filled the vacated positions through patronage.

c : jobs distributed by patronage the government's vast network of patronage

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Synonyms for patronage


aegis (also egis), auspice, backing, sponsorship

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Examples of patronage in a Sentence

The college relied on the patronage of its wealthy graduates to expand its funds. They thanked her for her patronage of the new hospital. The city should do more to encourage patronage of local businesses. a system of political patronage
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Recent Examples on the Web

In 1967, New York State courts, ruling on two suits filed by bars, struck down theories that homosexuals were inherently disorderly, effectively ending the liquor authority practice of using gay patronage as an excuse for revoking licenses. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Dick Leitsch, Whose ‘Sip-In’ Was a Gay Rights Milestone, Dies at 83," 22 June 2018 Wyandotte County government once was awash in patronage, political back-scratching and political rivalries. Mike Hendricks And Steve Vockrodt, kansascity, "Sex scandal in sheriff's office has some mulling future of Jackson County government | The Kansas City Star," 21 Apr. 2018 Sadr surprised allies and opponents alike with his strong showing across the majority of Iraqi provinces, where voters responded to his message of fighting corruption and reforming Iraq's patronage-heavy political system. Tamer El-ghobashy And Mustafa Salim,, "Maverick cleric's election upset could rattle U.S.-Iraq relations," 14 May 2018 Regular patronage is: work as precinct captain equals a job in the forest preserve. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "Archive Dive / Politics / News All hail Maria Pappas," 9 May 2018 Teachers are often appointed on the basis of patronage, not merit. The Economist, "Universal lessons," 5 July 2018 Many of the practices that have bogged down the hiring process were put in place in 1952 to fight cronyism and patronage, the tradition of handing out jobs based on a person’s friends and family. Juliana Feliciano Reyes,, "'Cumbersome, inflexible, and slow': It can take a year to get hired by the city, Pew finds," 26 June 2018 Also, the party has a massive nationwide electoral machine, often relying on patronage and handouts, that can turn out millions of party militants. Maria Verza, Fox News, "Ruling party's Meade banking on upset in Mexico election," 26 June 2018 Related Coverage The problem of Iraq’s post-2003 political setup, of course, is that every party always wanted to be part of the government, enjoying the patronage system that comes with controlling a ministry or a province. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "Iraq Grapples With Balance Between the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patronage.' 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 patronage

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for patronage

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for patronage

The first known use of patronage was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for patronage



English Language Learners Definition of patronage

: money and support that is given to an artist, organization, etc.

: support that is given to a business, library, etc., by buying its goods or using its services

: the power to give jobs or provide other help to people as a reward for their support


pa·​tron·​age | \ˈpa-trə-nij, ˈpā-trə-\

Kids Definition of patronage

1 : the help or business given by a supporter

2 : a group of customers (as of a shop or theater)

3 : the control by officials of giving out jobs, contracts, and favors

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Comments on patronage

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playful or foolish behavior

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