Word: nepotism

Pronunciation: NE-pə-ti-zəm

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Amy: I’m Amy Rose, and I’ll be auditioning for the part of “Sidekick”.

Sonic: Amy, I know who you are.

Amy: Great, because I am fine with nepotism.

Sonic Boom (Season 1, Episode 1 – The Sidekick)

Here’s another word I picked up from the Sonic Boom cartoon. After firing Tails as his sidekick (in an attempt to protect him from harm), Sonic holds interviews for potential replacements, the first of which to show up is another of his closest friends, Amy Rose. When Sonic reminds her that she doesn’t need to introduce herself to him, she hopefully infers that he’ll simply give her the job because of their friendship. It seems you can find “nepotism” even among heroes!

“Nepotism” is the practice of showing favor to friends or relatives, particularly by powerful or influential people. The word arose in the mid 17th century and traces back through the French noun népotisme to the Italian noun nepotismo. This noun stems from the noun nipote “nephew”, which in turn derives from the Latin noun nepos, meaning “descendant”.

If you’re wondering why “nepotism” originates from a word meaning “nephew”, there’s an interesting history behind it. From the Middle Ages to the late 17th century, it was common practice for popes to appoint their nephews to positions of preference and elevate them to the cardinalate, usually as a way to continue a papal dynasty. From this, it can be concluded that the word “nepotism” originally referred exclusively to favor for relatives and only later became applicable to friends as well. In modern times, it’s become a practice mainly associated with political power, though it can also be commonly seen in organizations. If you write powerful characters who like to favor their friends and family with job opportunities and the like, there’s definitely some “nepotism” going on in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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