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What's the word for a job with an important title but no real responsibility?

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  • Perhaps figurehead is the word your looking for?
    – user305707
    Jul 19, 2018 at 17:38
  • Depends. Today window cleaners are sometimes called Senior Natural Lighting Technician. Most jobs today are similarly aggrandised.
    – Sentinel
    Jul 19, 2018 at 19:05
  • 2
    (apologies in advance) President
    – kleineg
    Jul 19, 2018 at 20:42

5 Answers 5

17

Sinecure - an office or position requiring little or no work, especially one yielding profitable returns.

EDIT: From the Oxford Dictionaries:

sinecure

NOUN

A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.

‘political sinecures for the supporters of ministers’

Originally meaning "an ecclesiastical benefice, without cure of souls" (Latin sine cura - "without cure" mod. "care".) The word's more secular development is reflected in OED sense 2"

  1. Any office or position which has no work or duties attached to it, esp. one which yields some stipend or emolument.

1676 W. Wycherley Plain-dealer v. i Well, a Widow, I see, is a kind of a sine cure.

1705 T. Hearne Remarks & Coll. 26 Nov. He..makes ye Place in a manner a sine-cure; as most other Publick Readers do.

1766 J. Entick Surv. London in New Hist. London IV. 368 The magistracy of the city of London have adopted this ward only as a sine cure for the senior alderman.

1800 P. Colquhoun Treat. Commerce & Police R. Thames viii. 272
Many of the best institutions moulder into Sinecures.

1841 E. Miall in Nonconformist 1 553 If all men were under the influence of religion government would be a sinecure.

1885 ‘E. Garrett’ At Any Cost vi Grace's duties were never oppressive, but on Sunday they were a sinecure.

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  • Welcome. If this is a quote, please format it as such using > to turn the background brown like the other answers' quotations, and please include where it's from.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 19, 2018 at 18:22
  • 1
    Latin cura translates to "care", not "cure"... Can you please change this? SE doesn't want me to do single-letter edits, though it would make sense here. Jul 19, 2018 at 19:29
  • @StephanKolassa For some obscure reason, the English phrase is "the cure of souls" (meaning "care of"). Jul 19, 2018 at 19:37
  • @StephanKolassa OED sense 1b of "cure" - †b. to do one's (busy) cure: to give one's care or attention to some piece of work; to apply oneself diligently (to effect something). Obsolete. c1340 Cursor M. (Trin.) 1726 Noe..ȝaf wriȝtes her mesure And him self dude his cure.1556 W. Lauder Compend. Tractate Dewtie of Kyngis sig. B2 Bot trewlie thay suld do thare cure.
    – WS2
    Jul 19, 2018 at 21:18
6

This definition looks pretty precise for OP's intended meaning...

titular position (univsource.com)
A titular position is a position with just the title, but without the power or responsibilities that the position carries.

4

Nominal role or position:

(of a role or status) existing in name only

  • His role, however, was nominal, and the group was actually managed by professionals.’

(ODO)

2

You might possibly be thinking of ceremonial:

(of a post or role) conferring or involving only nominal authority or power.

'the largely ceremonial position of Lord Lieutenant of Kent'

For example, Field marshal is the highest rank in the British Army and it is certainly an important title. It most certainly has been used as a real and serious rank with real and serious responsibilities. However, to quote Wikipedia,

Other ceremonial appointments were made as diplomatic gestures.

0

Usually such jobs are described as cushy.

(informal) Easy, making few demands, comfortable.

  • This is a really cushy job. Mostly I just sit around drinking tea.

Technically a cushy job isn't required to have an important sounding title, but such jobs usually do. Sorry to suggest an adjective when you're looking for a noun but this is more likely to be readily understood than other answers.

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