(noun) Favoritism of relatives or personal friends by those in power, who because of their relationship rather than their abilities receive special treatment (e.g., jobs, discounts).


  • Legacy admissions (also called legacy preference) is when preferential treatment is given to family members related to alumni of a particular institution or organization but typically used to describe university admissions. Students admitted as part of this process are referred to legacies or legacy students.
  • Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877), President of United States is oft cited as an example of nepotism is politics. Grant’s father and brothers, along with his father-in-law and brothers-in-law all profited from his presidency.

Audio Pronunciation: (nep·o·tism)

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Usage Notes:

  • A (noun) nepotist advocates for (adjective) nepotistic or (adjective) nepotical allotment of jobs.
  • Closely related to cronyism.
  • Contrasted to a meritocracy.
  • Term comes from the Italian word  neptismo, and from the Latin word nepōs (“nephew’) and relates to the practice of popes appointing relatives, particular nephews to positions as cardinals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
  • A individual getting a job through nepotism is a (noun) nepotist who (adverb) nepotistically had a (adjective) nepotistic or (adjective) nepotical or (adjective) nepotistical advantage.

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Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (

How to Cite the Definition of Nepotism

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “nepotism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

nepotism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “nepotism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 27, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“nepotism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 27 Jun. 2019. <>.