[ kroh-nee ]
/ ˈkroʊ ni /
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See synonyms for: crony / cronies on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural cro·nies.
a close friend or companion; chum.
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Origin of crony

1655–65; alleged to be university slang; perhaps <Greek chrónios for a long time, long-continued, derivative of chrónos time; cf. chrono-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does crony mean?

A crony is a close friend or associate, especially one among several.

Crony can be used in a neutral way meaning much the same thing as buddy or pal, as in I still get together with my college cronies. 

But the word is most often used in a negative way to refer to a lackey or an accomplice in some kind of shady or illegal activity.

It’s especially used in a political context to refer to friends or associates of people in power who are appointed to positions or otherwise shown favor due to their relationship with that person, rather than for their qualifications, as in He ran for office to enrich himself and his cronies. When used this way, it implies a criticism of such people.

The term cronyism refers to the practice of appointing and otherwise favoring people in this way.

Example: Several of the company’s executives were known to be cronies of the CEO, making them unpopular with many employees. 

Where does crony come from?

The first records of the word crony come from around 1660. It’s origin isn’t known for sure, but it’s thought to come from university slang—its early recorded uses refer to school buddies. One possible origin could be the Greek chrónios, which means “for a long time” and is derived from the Greek chrónos, “time.” This makes sense since a crony is often a person you’ve known for a long time.

When a politician or public official appoints their longtime associates to positions, these people are often referred to as their cronies, especially in accusations of cronyism. (The practice of appointing family members to positions is called nepotism.)

Even when cronies is used outside of politics, it’s still often negative. In pop culture, the word is often used to refer to criminal associates (even if they’re not considered close associates or buddies). For example, the disposable henchmen sent on evil errands by fictional supervillains are occasionally referred to as their cronies.

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What are some other forms related to crony?

  • cronies (plural)

What are some synonyms for crony?

What are some words that share a root or word element with crony

What are some words that often get used in discussing crony?

How is crony used in real life?

The word crony is especially used in a critical way in the context of politics. There is rarely only one crony—the word is usually used in the plural.



Try using crony!

Which of the following kinds of people is the word crony most likely to refer to?

A. family member
B. enemy
C. accomplice
D. opponent

How to use crony in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for crony

/ (ˈkrəʊnɪ) /

noun plural -nies
a friend or companion

Word Origin for crony

C17: student slang (Cambridge), from Greek khronios of long duration, from khronos time
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