Word of The Day for Monday, November 22, 2010


sin•e•cure (SIN-i-kyoor)  n

1. a position or office that requires little or no work but provides a salary
2. an ecclesiastical benefice not attached to the spiritual duties of a parish (archaic)
sinecureship, sinecurism. sinecurist noun

1662, from M.L. beneficium sine cura "benefice without care" (of souls), from L. sine "without" + cura, ablative sing. of cura "care"

Related Words: secure from *se cura, from se "free from" (see secret) + cura "care"; curate from L. curatus, pp. of curare "to take care of"

Sentence Examples:
• The great clock has seven faces—one in each of the seven sides of the steeple—so that it can be readily seen from all quarters. Its faces are large and white, and its hands heavy and black. There is a belfry-man whose sole duty is to attend to it; but this duty is the most perfect of sinecures—for the clock of Vondervotteimittis was never yet known to have anything the matter with it. -The Devil in the Belfry, Edgar Allan Poe

• In 1864 he was given the secretaryship of the California mint, a virtual sinecure, and he was enabled do a great deal of writing. -Selected Stories of Bret Harte, Donald Lainson

• But Trustee Wardall had no sinecure. It was his job not only to run the shock-rocked company, and to plan a new capital structure, but also to recover any assets he could. -Time,1941

The Storyline
Despite it all, she was, however, out of time for self-pity. It was getting late and her job was no sinecure.

Why This Word:
Originating as an ecclesiastical term for a benefice without spiritual duties, sinecure is arises from these benefices. However, the history of the origin of benefices is obscure.

Deans and other officers in cathedrals, and in some places even parish priests, procured the privilege of appointing a vicar to perform the spiritual duties of the church, while its revenues were appropriated to themselves and their successors. Hence it happens that in some places a rector and vicar are instituted to the same church; in which case the rector is excused from duty, and the rectory is called a sinecure benefice, as being sine curd animarum. In order to effectuate an appropriation it was necessary that the patron should obtain the consent of the king and the bishop, as each of these had an interest in the patronage of the church in case of lapse, which, as a corporation never dies, could net take place after the appropriation; and upon the making an appropriation, an annual pension was reserved to the bishop and bis successors, called an indemnity, and payable by the body to whom the appropriation was made. In an antient deed of appropriation preserved in the registry of the archbishop of Canterbury, the ground of the reservation is expressed to be for a recompense of the profits which the bishop would otherwise have received during the vacancy of the benefice.
Today, sinecure has lost its ecclesiastical connection and is applied to cushy and figurehead jobs.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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