favoritism

A teacher who shows a clear preference for a particular student might be accused of favoritism, or favoring one person over others.

The noun favoritism can simply describe the habit of preferring one particular person or group of people, but it often implies that it's done at the expense of other people. Your grandmother practices favoritism if she clearly likes one of her grandchildren best, and a politician is guilty of favoritism if she gives tax breaks to one group but not to others. The word favorite is at the root of favoritism, from the Latin root favere, "to show kindness to."

Definitions of favoritism
  1. noun
    an inclination to favor some person or group
    synonyms: favouritism
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    type of:
    disposition, inclination, tendency
    an attitude of mind especially one that favors one alternative over others
  2. noun
    unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice
    synonyms: discrimination, favouritism
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    types:
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    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
    racial profiling
    a form of racism consisting of the (alleged) policy of policemen who stop and search vehicles driven by persons belonging to particular racial groups
    antifeminism, chauvinism, male chauvinism
    activity indicative of belief in the superiority of men over women
    sexual discrimination
    discrimination (usually in employment) that excludes one sex (usually women) to the benefit of the other sex
    type of:
    social control
    control exerted (actively or passively) by group action
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