sinecure

noun

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

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Bobby Short’s old sinecure from American trash) shows more than just Johansen’s career journey. Armond White, National Review, 14 Oct. 2022 His finances remained in a parlous state, and three years before his death this scourge of the Establishment solicited a government sinecure. Martin Edwards, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2022 At sixty, Casanova was forced by destitution to accept a modest sinecure as the librarian of a castle in Bohemia, owned by a noble admirer who was rarely in residence. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 20 June 2022 And if saving the world means that poor Maggie Hassan has to go back to being a lawyer or while away her days in some Kennedy School sinecure, isn’t that a small price to pay? Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 9 Feb. 2022 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. BostonGlobe.com, 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 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Medieval Latin sine cura without cure (of souls)

First Known Use

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of sinecure was in 1662

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Dictionary Entries Near sinecure

Cite this Entry

“Sinecure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sinecure. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

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