What's in a Word | All Blogs


A Yankee twist of a British word

By Debra Dobbins

Cronyism, according to Webster’s, is an Americanism that means “favoritism shown to close friends, especially in political appointments to office.”

I suppose it’s a necessary word, but I regret that we Yanks apparently took a venerable British word, crony, and turned it into a new word with a negative connotation.

According to several dictionaries, in the 1660s students at Cambridge coined crony to mean a longtime close friend or companion. They came up with the word by using the Greek word khronos, which means time. (Hence, we have words such as chronology, chronicle, chronometer and chronoscope.)

While living in staunch denial of my chronological age, I must admit that a strong advantage of this juncture in life is having many cronies – staunch friends whom I’ve known for decades. My friendship with them has definitely weathered the passage of time, and I’m happily anticipating even more decades of the special camaraderie only they can provide.

Illustration special to the Sentinel

A Norwegian crony enjoys the serenity of Muir Woods during a recent rendezvous on the West Coast.
 

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