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Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin patronus patron saint, patron of a benefice, pattern, from Latin, defender, from patr-, pater


  • 1a : a person chosen, named, or honored as a special guardian, protector, or supporter
b : a wealthy or influential supporter of an artist or writer
c : a social or financial sponsor of a social function (as a ball or concert)
  • 2: one that uses wealth or influence to help an individual, an institution, or a cause
  • 3: one who buys the goods or uses the services offered especially by an establishment
  • 4: the holder of the right of presentation to an English ecclesiastical benefice
  • 5: a master in ancient times who freed his slave but retained some rights over him
  • 6 [French, from Middle French] : the proprietor of an establishment (as an inn) especially in France
  • 7: the chief male officer in some fraternal lodges having both men and women members


Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors. It can also refer to the right of bestowing offices or church benefices, the business given to a store by a regular customer, and the guardianship of saints. The term derives from the Latin patrons, the formal relationship between a Patronus and his Cliens.

In some countries the term is used to describe political patronage, which is the use of state resources to reward individuals for their electoral support. Some patronage systems are legal, as in the Canadian tradition of allowing the Prime Minister to appoint the heads of a number of commissions and agencies; in many cases, these appointments go to people who have supported the political party of the Prime Minister. As well, the term may refer to a type of corruption or favoritism in which a party in power rewards groups, families, ethnicities for their electoral support using illegal gifts or fraudulently-awarded appointments or government contracts.[1]

See also