[ nep-uh-tiz-uhm ]
See synonyms for nepotism on
  1. patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics: She was accused of nepotism when she made her nephew an officer of the firm.

Origin of nepotism

From the Italian word nepotismo, dating back to 1655–65. See nephew, -ism

Other words from nepotism

  • ne·pot·ic [nuh-pot-ik], /nəˈpɒt ɪk/, nep·o·tis·tic, nep·o·tis·ti·cal, adjective
  • nep·o·tist, noun
  • an·ti·nep·o·tism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nepotism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nepotism


/ (ˈnɛpəˌtɪzəm) /

  1. favouritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power or influence

Origin of nepotism

C17: from Italian nepotismo, from nepote nephew, from the former papal practice of granting special favours to nephews or other relatives

Derived forms of nepotism

  • nepotic (nɪˈpɒtɪk) or nepotistic, adjective
  • nepotist, noun

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

Cultural definitions for nepotism


[ (nep-uh-tiz-uhm) ]

Favoritism granted to relatives or close friends, without regard to their merit. Nepotism usually takes the form of employing relatives or appointing them to high office.

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