Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sincecure

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is sinecure. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Sinecure is a noun that refers to a usually paid job or position that requires little or no work.

// The king was in the habit of rewarding his loyal supporters with sinecures.

SINECURE in Context

“To make matters worse, the architects of failure are rarely, if ever, held accountable. Instead of acknowledging their mistakes openly, even discredited former officials can head off to corporate boards, safe sinecures, or lucrative consulting firms, hoping to return to power as soon as their party regains the White House. Once back in office, they are free to repeat their previous mistakes, backed by a chorus of pundits whose recommendations never change no matter how often they’ve failed.” — Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 3 Mar. 2021

Did You Know?

A sinecure (pronounced \SYE-nih-kyoor\) sounds like a pretty sweet deal: it’s a job or title that usually comes with regular money but with little or no work. Who wouldn’t want that? While the thing sinecure refers to might be desirable, the word itself is typically used with disdain—if someone refers to your job as a sinecure they don’t think you earn the money you collect by doing it. The word’s roots are likewise served with some side-eye: it comes from the Medieval Latin sine cura, meaning “without cure”—the lack of cure in this case being one for souls. The original sinecure was a church position that didn’t involve the spiritual care or instruction of church members (theoretically, the church’s sole purpose). Ecclesiastical sinecures have been a thing of the past since the late 19th century; positions referred to with the word these days are more likely to be board positions or academic appointments that require no teaching.

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1 thought on “Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sincecure

  1. Tag/lish

    “We have something that’s a Filipino/English slang term derived from secure which is a verb. It’s sinecure translating to the act of securing something. E.g. Sinecure ko na ito = I’ve secured it.”

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