si·​ne·​cure | \ ˈsī-ni-ˌkyu̇r How to pronounce sinecure (audio) , ˈsi- \

Definition of sinecure

1 : an office or position that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income
2 archaic : an ecclesiastical benefice without cure of souls

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Sinecure comes from the Medieval Latin phrase sine cura, which literally means "without cure." No, the first sinecures were not cushy jobs for those suffering with incurable maladies. The word sinecure first referred to "an ecclesiastical benefice without cure of souls"—that is, a church position in which the job-holder did not have to tend to the spiritual care and instruction of church members. Such sinecures were virtually done away with by the end of the 19th century, but by then the word had acquired a broader sense referring to any paid position with few or no responsibilities.

Examples of sinecure in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Most egregious of all, in 1813 Wordsworth had accepted the post of Distributor of Stamps for Westmoreland, a government sinecure that would pay him a comfortable £400 for the next thirty years. Kathryn Hughes, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020 Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country, after apparently looting the Afghan treasury, and will likely live a life of resplendent exile—possibly with a sinecure at one of our nation’s Ivy League universities or prestigious think tanks. Daniel Bessner, The New Republic, 16 Aug. 2021 He was given a sinecure in Rome where nuns waited on him hand and foot., 21 June 2021 But, while the title was supposed to be a sinecure, instead Smith went from running for the nation’s highest office to running around trying to rent the highest offices. Time, 30 Apr. 2021 During his Eighties sinecure at the Yale Repertory Theatre, where the play was originally workshopped, Wilson laid out a dramatic scheme that would provoke shock (and guilt). Armond White, National Review, 1 Jan. 2021 With long-term, tenure-track hiring in steep decline across academic fields, these conditions can no longer be justified as an unpleasant apprenticeship leading to a cushy tenured sinecure in the ivory tower. Walter Johnson, The New York Review of Books, 27 Jan. 2020 His are not exactly the steadiest of hands, but foreign businesses have sought him out for lucrative sinecures. Nr Editors, National Review, 24 Oct. 2019 Aim for a plurality, but do so with what amounts to a running mate who is then rewarded with a sinecure in the new administration. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, 13 June 2018

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

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for sinecure

Medieval Latin sine cura without cure (of souls)

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The first known use of sinecure was in 1662

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Last Updated

29 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sinecure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for sinecure



English Language Learners Definition of sinecure

: a job or position in which someone is paid to do little or no work


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