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 (fā′vər-ĭ-tĭz′əm, fāv′rĭ-)
1. A display of partiality toward a favored person or group.
2. The state of being held in special favor.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈfeɪ vər ɪˌtɪz əm, ˈfeɪv rɪ-)

1. the favoring of one person or group over others with equal claims; partiality.
2. the state of being a favorite.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


See also discrimination.

the practice of giving preferential treatment to a person or persons.
favoritism shown to nephews or other relatives, as in politics or business. — nepotist, n. — nepotic, adj.
1. favoritism shown to members of one’s own party, faction, sect, or cause.
2. strong adherence to the tenets of one’s party, faction, sect, or cause. — partisan, n., adj.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



apple of one’s eye A prized or cherished possession, an object of special devotion or attention; a favorite or beloved person. The literal apple of the eye is the pupil, formerly thought to be a solid globular body. The figurative phrase, perhaps derived from the priceless value placed on vision, appears to be as old as the language itself, having been used by King Alfred in his translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy (approx. A.D. 885). The expression also appears in Deuteronomy 32:10.

He kept me as the apple of his eye.

button of the cap The top; the most favored. This expression comes from the use of different types of buttons or knobs on the top of the caps worn by Chinese mandarins to distinguish various degrees of rank. Shakespeare used the phrase in Hamlet (II, ii):

On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.

fair-haired boy A person being groomed for a position of leadership; a favorite of those in power. Throughout Western mythology and folklore, the hero, an embodiment of goodness and beneficence, is traditionally pictured as having a light complexion, blue eyes, and light-colored or blond hair. In many cultures, both past and present, a fair-haired person is considered to be a god, godlike, or in some way superior to dark-haired people in the same culture. Thus, the expression describes anyone, not necessarily only a blond male, destined for leadership in a given field.

Joe Mooney … a blind [jazzianist] … is the latest “fair-haired oy” of the musical world. (Dave Bittan, Temple University News, January 24, 1947)
Vishinsky was Stalin’s newest fair-haired boy. (Time, March 14, 1949)

Similar expressions include fair-haired girl, blue-eyed boy or girl, blonde-haired boy or girl, and white-haired boy or girl In recent years, such terms have sometimes been used derogatorily to describe an employee who attempts to curry favor with his superiors.

handle with kid gloves See CAUTIOUSNESS.

make chalk of one and cheese of the other To show favoritism; to treat one thing or person better than another. The terms chalk and cheese are often found in opposition to one another in proverbial expressions, where chalk stands for something worthless and cheese symbolizes something of value. Thus, to make chalk of one and cheese of the other means to treat two things or persons unequally, to favor one over the other.

make fish of one and flesh of another To favor one thing or person over another, to make unfair distinctions between similar things or persons; also to make fish of one and fowl of another. The allusion is to the practice of dividing meat into the categories of fish, flesh, and fowl. Thus, to make fish of one and flesh or fowl of another is to discriminate unnecessarily and unfairly between basically similar things or persons, to show partiality. Use of this expression, rarely heard today, dates from the early 18th century.

This is making fish of one and fowl of another with a vengeance. (The Manchester Examiner, May, 1885)

red-carpet treatment Preferential or royal treatment; also the phrase to roll out the red carpet ‘to give someone preferred or royal treatment.’ The reference is to the literal plush strip of red carpet traditionally laid out for the entrances and exits of kings and other heads of state.

sacred cow Any person, idea, or object held sacrosanct and consequently immune from attack or criticism. As commonly used, sacred cow carries the implication that inviolability is unwarranted, but that considerations of political expedience prevent dispassionate evaluations or judgments of merits. The expression is derived from the Hindu belief that cows are sacred; thus, they are never slaughtered, and are allowed to roam about freely.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.favoritism - an inclination to favor some person or group
inclination, tendency, disposition - an attitude of mind especially one that favors one alternative over others; "he had an inclination to give up too easily"; "a tendency to be too strict"
2.favoritism - unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudicefavoritism - unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice
social control - control exerted (actively or passively) by group action
able-bodiedism, able-bodism, ableism, ablism - discrimination in favor of the able-bodied
ageism, agism - discrimination against middle-aged and elderly people
cronyism - favoritism shown to friends and associates (as by appointing them to positions without regard for their qualifications)
fatism, fattism - discrimination against people who are overweight
heterosexism - discrimination in favor of heterosexual and against homosexual people
nepotism - favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those in power (as by giving them jobs)
racial discrimination, racialism, racism - discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race
sexism - discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of the opposite sex
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


Favorable or preferential bias:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
With equal plausibility might it be alleged in this case, that the favoritism of the latter would always be an asylum for the misbehavior of the former.
Such was the certainty of the audience, as well as its excitement and favoritism, that it failed to take notice that the Mexican still stayed on his feet.
He begins to perceive the impossibilities of his career; he hears talk of favoritism; he discovers the intrigues of officials: he sees the questionable means by which his superiors have pushed their way,--one has married a young woman who made a false step; another, the natural daughter of a minister; this one shouldered the responsibility of another's fault; that one, full of talent, risks his health in doing, with the perseverance of a mole, prodigies of work which the man of influence feels incapable of doing for himself, though he takes the credit.
If marine surveys require PH permission it is only to determine surveyor's seriousness and capability; not our fears and favoritism. Yes?
MANSEHRA -- The members of district council here have announced to move the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) against what they called favoritism and anomalies committed by the district nazim in execution of development schemes since inception of the present local governments in 2015.
The deputy head of the Parliament's youth and sports committee explained that the meeting will include assessing the performance of the associationand holding them accountable for alleged favoritism, adding that the committee will not tolerate the humiliating knock out of the national team in the tournament held in Egypt.
Some truck drivers and owners have revealed that aside the economic gain, insincerity and favoritism bedeviling the call-up system of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) compels many of them to stop at nothing to gain access into the ports.
An Illinois Senate hearing in July examined hiring and procurement at the tollway following reports by the Daily Herald of potential political favoritism.
BADIN -- Unemployed youths of Badin city and adjoining areas held protest demonstration in front of Badin press club against administration local NGO managed hospital Badin management for their monopoly, nepotism and favoritism in connection of employment in the hospital and closure of the emergency ward of city centered hospital.
'If Khan Sahib would have been so popular, his politics at peak and masses with him, then what was the need to show such favoritism to him and provide a non-level playing field to other parties,' he asked.
Certainly not, and very often cries that favoritism runs in the family, but the mother knows it isn't so, and all she is doing is keeping the balance so members can grow strong.