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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.


(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.


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.



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.

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


Favorable or preferential bias:
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.
Ajmal Hayat Arbab of Peshawar told a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club that party president Asfandyar Wali had empowered his own family members, including former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and son Aimal Wali Khan, to lead the parliamentary board, who were naming election candidates on the basis of favoritism and nepotism.
Summary: Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh) [India], Aug 30 (ANI): Responding to the allegations that favoritism was shown in giving Yash Bharti Awards during his tenure, Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday said that the Yogi Adityanath-led government too should favour its own people for the Yash Bharti awards.
Test and interviews conducted for the recruitment was not on merit and candidates were finalized through favoritism, he added.
KHYBER AGENCY -- Elders and civil society members from across Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have alleged officials of Refugees Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) FATA Secretariat of corruption, nepotism and favoritism in various schemes in tribal areas.
The eight contributions that make up the main body of the text cover corruption risks in the Romanian infrastructure sector, political favoritism in Croatian public procurement, UkraineAEs uncertain reform process, and many other related subjects.
ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- The Interior Ministry has abolished the exam requirement for employment in certain state offices in what is seen as a pretext to allow further favoritism towards those deemed close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
When workplace relationships don't work out, businesses sometimes have multi-tiered problems to deal with, including potential sexual harassment cases, favoritism and conflicts of interest.
While the board was happy to accept the challenge and took on the ice water with smiles on their faces, Chairman Neil Sulmasy was quick to point out that their participation in no way signaled any favoritism of one charitable organization over another.
Reeve, Ross, Emily and Evan gab about the one-year anniversary of the Legislature's famous filibuster, the upcoming Texas Democratic Party convention, and the latest on the investigation into alleged favoritism in UT-Austin admissions.