Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
May 22nd, 2015
Episode 203 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 22, 2015 is: nepotism \NEP-uh-tiz-um\ noun : favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship Examples: It was strongly believed that nepotism played a role in helping Jessica get the sales manager position at her cousin's store. "The Times investigation found that at least 7% of county firefighters on the payroll since 2012 were the sons of current or former employees of the department. Statistical experts consulted by The Times said the percentage of sons and other relatives on the job strongly indicated that nepotism was at play." Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2015 Did you know? During his papacy from 14711484, 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 Romatitled 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.")