1650s, from Late Latin sponsor "sponsor in baptism," in Latin "a surety, guarantee, bondsman," from sponsus, past participle of spondere "give assurance, promise solemnly," from Proto-Italic *spondejo- "to pledge," literally "to libate many times," from PIE *spondeio- "to libate" (source also of Hittite ishpanti- "to bring a fluid sacrifice, pour;" Greek spendein "make a drink offering," spondē "libation, offering of wine;" compare spondee). Sense of "person who pays for a radio (or, after 1947, TV) program" is first recorded 1931.
word-forming element meaning "quality, condition; act, power, skill; office, position; relation between," Middle English -schipe, from Old English -sciepe, Anglian -scip "state, condition of being," from Proto-Germanic *-skepi- (cognates: Old Norse -skapr, Danish -skab, Old Frisian -skip, Dutch -schap, German -schaft), from *skap- "to create, ordain, appoint," from PIE root *(s)kep-, forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack" (see shape (v.)). It often forms abstracts to go with corresponding concretes (friend/friendship, etc.).
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Definitions of sponsorship from WordNet
the act of sponsoring (either officially or financially);