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nepotism

Printable Version Pronunciation: ne-pê-ti-zêm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Favoritism shown toward relatives in hiring.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the head of an appallingly predictable family: nepotistic is the adjective and nepotistically, the adverb. A nepotistic person is, of course, a nepotist. Nothing unusual or interesting here, so let's move on.

In Play: What is nepotism? To those outside the family nepotism is corruption but to those inside the family it is simply good family stewardship: "Come on, Uncle Amos, show a sense of nepotism and give me a chance at this job." It isn't always a bad thing: "If it weren't for nepotism, this company wouldn't be able to hire anyone."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from French nÚpotisme with the usual modest English polishing. The French picked up the word from Italian nepotismo, a noun derived from nepote "nephew", the remains of Latin nepo(t)s "grandson, nephew". Currently the Italian word is nipote "nephew, grandson". We find the stem of this word in other Indo-European languages: Albanian nip "grandson", Sanskrit napti- "granddaughter", Greek nepodes "offshoots". Among the Germanic languages we find English nephew and German Neffe, which mean the same thing. (Since neither Susan Lister nor Jan Arps is in any way related to me, I can thank them both for suggesting today's Good Word without any hint of nepotism.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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