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sycophant

[sik-uh-fuh nt, -fant, sahy-kuh-] /ˈsɪk ə fənt, -ˌfænt, ˈsaɪ kə-/
noun
1.
a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
Origin
1530-1540
1530-40; < Latin sȳcophanta < Greek sȳkophántēs informer, equivalent to sŷko(n) fig + phan- (stem of phaínein to show) + -tēs agentive suffix
Related forms
sycophantic, sycophantical, sycophantish, adjective
sycophantically, sycophantishly, adverb
sycophantism, noun
Synonyms
toady, yes man, flunky, fawner, flatterer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for sycophant
  • But history will likely remember him as the ultimate sycophant, the loyal sidekick.
  • The hiring committee then consisted of the head and one sycophant who always agreed with him.
  • By a revolution in the state, the fawning sycophant of yesterday is converted into the austere critic of the present hour.
  • Yet she was no sycophant, she had her own brand of mockery and shared his insouciance about patronage.
British Dictionary definitions for sycophant

sycophant

/ˈsɪkəfənt/
noun
1.
a person who uses flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence; toady
Derived Forms
sycophancy, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin sӯcophanta, from Greek sukophantēs, literally: the person showing a fig, apparently referring to the fig sign used in making an accusation, from sukon fig + phainein to show; sense probably developed from ``accuser'' to ``informer, flatterer''
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sycophant
n.

1530s (in Latin form sycophanta), "informer, talebearer, slanderer," from Latin sycophanta, from Greek sykophantes, originally "one who shows the fig," from sykon "fig" + phanein "to show." "Showing the fig" was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, itself symbolic of a vagina (sykon also meant "vulva"). The story goes that prominent politicians in ancient Greece held aloof from such inflammatory gestures, but privately urged their followers to taunt their opponents. The sense of "mean, servile flatterer" is first recorded in English 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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