When the word crony (also spelled cronie, chrony, cronee, and croney at first) emerged in university slang between 1665 and 1666, it didn't have the negative connotations of today, but was instead an affectionate term for "friend", much like "mate" or "chum". This is not, as some people claim, related to the word crone (which comes from an Anglo-French word for "carcass"), but comes from the Greek word khronios, meaning "long-lasting", on the notion that good friends are long-lasting. That's an adjectival form of khronos, meaning "time", and might trace to the Proto-Indo-European root sek, "to cut". The word cronyism is from the mid-nineteenth century, when it just meant "friendship", and that took on a sense of "appointing friends to important positions" about a hundred years later.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.