nep·​o·​tism | \ ˈne-pə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce nepotism (audio) \

Essential Meaning of nepotism

disapproving : the unfair practice by a powerful person of giving jobs and other favors to relatives Nepotism has hurt the company.

Full Definition of nepotism

: favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship accused the company of fostering nepotism in promotions

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 This year, The Times has documented how executives at many nonprofits that run shelters have enriched themselves through high salaries, nepotism and questionable contracts. New York Times, 20 Dec. 2021 This episode had everything: the potential of a new Roy heir, the emergence of a new No. 1 boy, the suggestion of more Alexander Skarsgård in future episodes, and Logan blowing up the promise of nepotism. Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, 14 Dec. 2021 But nepotism rules in the union hall, Mr. Castillo contends. New York Times, 6 Nov. 2021 The source asserted that a mix of cost-cutting measures in the hiring process and nepotism may have brought Gutierrez Reed, who was to be paid less than $8,000 for the movie, to the set. Fox News, 5 Nov. 2021 Behind the scenes, though, this case—a soap opera in clerical robes, complete with allegations of fraud, scandal and nepotism—has a real chance to boomerang back on Francis. Gerald Posner, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 Making this franchise a family affair isn’t the worst act of nepotism this industry has ever seen. Roxana Hadadi, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2021 But some current and former board members said in interviews that investigators were also examining long-standing questionable practices such as nepotism, self-dealing and annual salaries exceeding $600,000 for some of the executive staff. Jeff Mcdonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Oct. 2021 The gap between performance and success is largely a function of toxic politics, which includes privilege, nepotism, impression management, and the ability to take credit for others’ achievements while blaming them for your mistakes. Tomas Chamorro-premuzic, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021

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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Last Updated

6 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nepotism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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