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[pey-truh-nij, pa‐] /ˈpeɪ trə nɪdʒ, ˈpæ‐/
the financial support or business provided to a store, hotel, or the like, by customers, clients, or paying guests.
patrons collectively; clientele.
the control of or power to make appointments to government jobs or the power to grant other political favors.
offices, jobs, or other favors so controlled.
the distribution of jobs and favors on a political basis, as to those who have supported one's party or political campaign.
a condescending manner or attitude in granting favors, in dealing with people, etc.; condescension:
an air of patronage toward his business subordinates.
the position, encouragement, influence, or support of a patron, as toward an artist, institution, etc.
the right of presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice; advowson.
Origin of patronage
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French; see patron, -age
Related forms
propatronage, adjective
1. custom, commerce, trade. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for patronage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His patronage was therefore necessarily withdrawn from Mr. Gladstone.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The little friar, encouraged by this patronage, found his voice, and pleaded for mercy.

    Maid Marian Thomas Love Peacock
  • There was a wonderful air of benignity and patronage in his manner.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • I am deeply obliged to you for your encouragement and patronage, but it was papa who asked for it.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • These disappointments of her patronage were a sharp retort, and made me feel independent.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for patronage


  1. the support given or custom brought by a patron or patroness
  2. the position of a patron
(in politics)
  1. the practice of making appointments to office, granting contracts, etc
  2. the favours so distributed
  1. a condescending manner
  2. any kindness done in a condescending way
(Christianity) the right to present a clergyman to a benefice
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for patronage

late 14c., "right of presenting a qualified person to a church benefice," from Old French patronage (14c.) from patron (see patron). Secular sense of "action of giving influential support" is from 1550s. General sense of "power to give jobs or favors" is from 1769; meaning "regular business of customers" is 1804.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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patronage in Culture
patronage [(pay-truh-nij, pat-ruh-nij)]

The power of a government official or leader to make appointments and offer favors. Once in office, a politician can use patronage to build a loyal following. Though practiced at all levels of government, patronage is most often associated with the machine politics of big cities. (See spoils system.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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