: favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship
Did You Know?
During his papacy from 1471–1484, Sixtus IV granted many special favors to members of his family, in particular his nephews. This practice of papal favoritism was carried on by his successors, and in 1667 it was the subject of Gregorio Leti’s book Il Nepotismo di Roma—titled in the English translation, The History of the Popes’ Nephews. Shortly after the book’s appearance, nepotism began to be used in English for the showing of special favor or unfair preference to any relative by someone in any position of power, be it ecclesiastical or not. (The nep- spelling is from nepote, a 17th-century variant of Italian nipote, meaning “nephew.”)
It was strongly believed that nepotism played a role in helping Jessica get the sales manager position at her cousin’s store.
“Not only does this nepotism sap the competence of police, government, and business, but it sets up a zero-sum competition for the necessities of life among clans and ethnic groups, which can quickly turn violent.” — Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, 2011