I'm writing a message which will go out to a global community, so I want to keep the vocabulary relatively straightforward. I'm describing a job which previously has been a little vaguely-defined, but which going forward is expected to be significantly more meaningful, both in responsibilities and impact.

In my draft, I wrote that the position is a serious one, "not a sinecure". However, this only really helpful if someone already knows this (relatively obscure, I think) word. I can, of course, explain more, but I was hoping for some thing succinct. The thesaurus is not helping here; is there another word or short phrase which concisely expresses the same or similar meaning?

  • 2
    Sinecure is essentially "title-only" or "meaningless but you get paid".
    – SrJoven
    Oct 31, 2014 at 16:47
  • Btw, "sinecure" is essentially a metaphor, and not that obscure. You seem to need a direct term.
    – Kris
    Oct 31, 2014 at 17:39
  • 1
    "This position is now better defined, and significantly more meaningful, both in responsibilities and impact." Sounds good to me.
    – SrJoven
    Oct 31, 2014 at 17:45
  • Maybe a positive statement, such as evolving.
    – bib
    Oct 31, 2014 at 21:19
  • 2
    you will say that the job is ideal for challenge seekers. your ad is to entice good people, not dissuade lazy people.
    – user31341
    Nov 1, 2014 at 3:27

5 Answers 5


I suggest nominal: (from TFD)

  • existing in name only.

The position is a serious one, not just nominal.

  • she is the nominal head of our college, the real work is done by her deputy. (from Cambridge Dict,)

You may be looking for something like

gravy train
n. Slang
An occupation or other source of income that requires little effort while yielding considerable profit.

or, stretching a bit further afield,

make-work job
[T]he phrase "make-work" is . . . used for work that is both of negative financial benefit and also not considered to be of any other particular benefit to the national interest.

[Links point to and quoted excerpts taken from thefreedictionary.com]

  • 3
    Both of these suffer from the fact that are unlikely to be more understandable to a ‘global community’ than sinecure.
    – Gala
    Nov 1, 2014 at 16:03
  • Well, either of them is better than nominal, which is a poor force-fit.
    – Robusto
    Nov 1, 2014 at 18:17
  • 1
    Yes, probably, but I think cushy or (not) demanding could get the idea across more effectively and sinecure is still the best noun until now. At least you can find it in an English-something dictionary…
    – Gala
    Nov 1, 2014 at 20:30

Figurehead (Collins English Dictionary)

  1. a person nominally having a prominent position, but no real authority

What you are trying to say is that this was not a figurehead position, but has responsibilities and authority...(which I imagine you will go on to describe).


The term cushy is often applied to sinecures

(Of a job, task, or situation) undemanding, easy, or secure: cushy jobs that pay you to ski [Oxford Dictionaries Online]

It is usually followed by job, post, position or similar reference to an assignment.

You are clearly trying to indicate that the job is not like that of Co-ordinator of Inter-relations, the ill-defined, ineffective position held by Mr. Nat, a character created by Gene Klavan, a well-known radio personality in the 1960s.


How about demanding? This word can have negative connotations, however, so you may want to qualify its use with a phrase like '...demanding and rewarding post...'.

Similarly: challenging or engaging. Perhaps a phrase like 'This will be a significant and engaging role...'.

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