[ kroh-nee-iz-uhm ]
/ ˈkroʊ niˌɪz əm /
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the practice of favoring one's close friends, especially in political appointments.


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Origin of cronyism

First recorded in 1830–40; crony + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does cronyism mean?

Cronyism the practice of appointing friends or associates to positions or otherwise showing them favor due to having a relationship with them, rather than for their qualifications.

The word cronyism is used to criticize such practices, especially in politics.

The people appointed to these positions can be called cronies, as in He ran for office to enrich himself and his cronies.  

In general, 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.

Example: Several high-ranking department positions were given to friends and former business associates of the governor, resulting in accusations of cronyism.

Where does cronyism come from?

The first records of the word cronyism come from the 1800s. The origin of the word crony 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. The suffix -ism indicates a practice of something.

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. Similarly, the practice of appointing family members to positions is called nepotism.Cronyism, nepotism, and other forms of favoritism are all commonly discussed in the context of criticism of governmental and political corruption.

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What are some other forms related to cronyism?

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

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

How is cronyism used in real life?

The word cronyism is used in a critical way, especially in the context of politics.




Try using cronyism!

Which of the following kinds of people are typically given positions under a system that’s considered to be cronyism

A. political opponents
B. the most qualified candidates
C. buddies
D. strangers

How to use cronyism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cronyism

/ (ˈkrəʊnɪˌɪzəm) /

the practice of appointing friends to high-level, esp political, posts regardless of their suitability
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