Rentsmith

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The anthropology of the office™


The JC puts on his pith-helmet, grabs his butterfly net and a rucksack full of marmalade sandwiches, and heads into the concrete jungle

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Portia: Ay, that’s a confi indeed, for he doth nothing but
talk of his indemnities; and he makes it a great
appropriation to his own large part, that he can
injunct himself. I am much afear’d, my lady, his
mother played false with a rentsmith.

— Shakespeare, The Merchant of Tennis, I,ii

Rentsmith /rɛntsmɪθ/ (n., derog.) (also rentsmithing, rentsmithery)

1. A rent-seeking legal eagle. One who justifies one’s place in the room by wordsmithing things which are fine as they are, especially if doing do makes things worse than they were in the first place (hence, an “iatrogenicist”).

2. (v., derog.) To act as a rentsmith. To peddle celery.

3. Rentsmithee /rɛntsmɪθiː/ (n.): One obliged to render rent to a rentsmith. A client.

See also