"Nepo Baby": Meaning and Origin

Why did this term only recently become popular?

, Freelance Writer
Updated April 12, 2023
Meaning of the term "nepo baby" as explained in the article.
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Not all of us can be born as nepo babies. But we can all learn about what they are, where the viral slang term came from, and what advantages — or disadvantages — they may experience.

What Is a “Nepo Baby”?

Nepo baby is short for nepotism baby. The term refers to the child of a famous or successful person who becomes famous or successful as a result of their parent’s status.

Nepotism is any professional advantage or courtesy that’s extended only to relatives. Discussions of nepotism usually come from the business world, where children of successful business owners and executives may receive better treatment within an organization than other employees.

Fast Fact

The term nepotism dates back much further than nepo baby.


It comes from the 17th-century Italian népotisme, which is derived from nipote (“nephew”), and often described a pope’s favorable treatment of his nephew — who was often actually his illegitimate son.

Who Is Considered a “Nepo Baby”?

The term is typically associated with up-and-coming Gen Z actors and musicians who are the children of celebrities, but it can also describe anyone who is the child of a celebrity of any age.

A common way you’ll see nepo baby used is in surprise when someone finds out that their favorite actor/musician is the child of someone else they’ve heard of. 

  • Jack Quaid might be a nepo baby, but he’s so talented!
  • Did you know that Lily Allen is a nepo baby? Her parents are Keith Allen and Alison Owen.
  • People criticize Jamie Lee Curtis as a nepo baby because her parents are famous actors, but she's had a full career in her own right.
  • I made it on my own in this industry. I’m no nepo baby.

Calling people nepo babies or nepo children implies that they are treated better overall in their careers due to their parent or parents being famous or successful.

While it isn’t uncommon for children of famous artists, actors, or moguls to receive excellent resources and grow up to be talented or skilled, people known as nepo babies also enjoy their parents’ connections and relationships in their industries of choice.

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Where Did “Nepo Baby” Come From?

Despite the older roots of nepotism, the term nepotism baby has only been around since the early 2010s. Its shortening of nepo baby as well as the frequent use of the term on TikTok and other social media picked up around the end of 2022. 

Two viral articles released on Dec. 19, 2022, skyrocketed the term to mainstream use: How a Nepo Baby Is Born by Nate Jones at Vulture and the New York Magazine cover story Extremely Overanalyzing Hollywood’s Nepo-Baby Boom by Priyanka Mantha.

While nepotism baby has been in use for decades, and a trend of mocking nepo babies on TikTok was on the rise, these articles are what led to the term’s viral use.

Is “Nepo Baby” Always an Insult?

Usually, when people discuss nepo babies, it comes from jealousy or discontent with the upper-class and specific industries.

For example, some are upset to find out that their favorite actor is a nepo baby because it might mean that, although talented, they may have had an unfair advantage over other people. It can also imply that the person isn’t talented at all — they were just born into the right family.

But nepo baby can also simply describe the child of a celebrity, regardless of their success or skills. Because the term can be used negatively or neutrally, even those who are praising or defending celebrities’ children might use the term nepo baby, so the context of the discussion is important to identify whether the speaker is criticizing the nepo baby, or just referring to them as the child of famous parents.

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Similar Terms to “Nepo Baby”

You might have just learned what nepo baby means, but here are some other terms you can use for similar concepts.

my favorite nepo baby

This phrase is usually accompanied by a picture of a celebrity and displays that the speaker admires the celebrity, implying that the nepo baby in question is so talented or skilled that their background does not take away from their accomplishments.

old money

This term is often used when wealth is passed down from an upper-class family to their children.

new money

Someone is considered new money (often by a person who considers themselves old money) when they are the first generation to enjoy wealth in a family line.


When a wealthy person describes themselves using the euphemism comfortable, they mean “rich, but not too rich.”



A richling is a young wealthy person — usually one with wealthy parents.

foot in the door

Getting your foot in the door describes the first step and connection in establishing a career. Nepo babies are often criticized because they already have a foot in the door by having successful parents.

silver spoon

The idiom born with a silver spoon in their mouth refers to someone who was born into wealth or success.

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