You know how the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, appointed his wife to be vice president last February? No? Well, anyway, that was an example of nepotism, the act of favoring friends or relatives with political positions. However, in the olden days, it was just family, and before that it was just nephews (so Aliyev never really was nepotistic). This is because of the word's interesting etymology: through French nepotisme and Italian nepotismo, the word derives from Latin nepos, meaning "nephew". This is because the popes of the Middle Ages (situated in Italy, of course) commonly appointed their own nephews to serve as cardinals, most notably Paul III and Callixtus III. Anyway, nepos (also the source of nephew, through French neveu) derives from the Proto-Italic root nepots, from Proto-Indo-European nepots, which carried a double meaning of "nephew" and "grandson". I wonder if this would hold up as a legal loophole...
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd