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?

A sinecure (pronounced \SYE-nih-kyoor\) sounds like a pretty sweet deal: it’s a job or title that usually comes with regular money but with little or no work. Who wouldn’t want that? While the thing sinecure refers to might be desirable, the word itself is typically used with disdain—if someone refers to your job as a sinecure they don’t think you earn the money you collect by doing it. The word’s roots are likewise served with some side-eye: it comes from the Medieval Latin sine cura, meaning “without cure”—the lack of cure in this case being one for souls. The original sinecure was a church position that didn’t involve the spiritual care or instruction of church members (theoretically, the church’s sole purpose). Ecclesiastical sinecures have been a thing of the past since the late 19th century; positions referred to with the word these days are more likely to be board positions or academic appointments that require no teaching.

Examples of sinecure in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The 2014 and 2015 tax years included Hunter’s lavish, undeclared income from his sinecure at the allegedly corrupt Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. The Editors, National Review, 21 July 2023 Rather than remove poor performers from their sinecures, the current fixation on age could remove from our political and economic structures men and women who have spent decades learning about the world and offering the wisdom born of long professional experience. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2023 In the past year, for example, Mr. Xi seemingly sent veteran officials into semiretirement with sinecure posts, only to bring them back to front-line politics months later with senior roles at China’s top prosecutorial agency and Taiwan affairs office. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, 9 Jan. 2023 Rather than give him a sinecure, Netanyahu named him the national-security minister. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2023 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sinecure.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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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Cite this Entry

“Sinecure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sinecure. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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