Complete Definition of "sycophant"

was wotd|2006|July|7
English

Etymology
In the year 1537 from L. sycophanta|sȳcophanta (meaning "informer", "talebearer", "trickster" or "slanderer"), from Greek συκοφάντης (sykophantes) originally meaning "one who shows the fig", from the word sykon ("fig") + phanein (meaning "to show"). The gesture of "showing the fig" was a vulgar one, whom was made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, which is itself symbolic of a cunt (sykon also meant "vulva"). The story behind this etymology is that that politicians in ancient Greece steered clear of displaying that vulgar gesture, but urged their followers sub rosa to taunt their opponents by using it.

Pronunciation
IPA|/ˈsɪkəfænt/ or /ˈsɪkəfənt/
audio|en-us-sycophant-2.ogg|Audio (US)

Noun
en-noun

  1. One who uses compliments to gain self-serving favor or advantage from another.
  2. One who seeks to gain through the powerful and influential.

Synonyms
italbrac-colon|one who uses compliments to gain favor brown noser, suck up, yes man
italbrac-colon|one who seeks to gain through the powerful parasite, flunky, lackey

Translations
trans-top|one who uses compliments to gain self-serving favor or advantage from another person.
Dutch: slijmbal, bruinwerker
Estonian: takkakiitja, pealekaebaja
German: Kriecher m, Schmeichler m, Speichellecker m
trans-mid
Scottish Gaelic: sodalaiche m
Spanish: adulador m
trans-bottom

Quotations
timeline|
1700s=1775 1787|
1800s=1841|
1900s=1927

1775 — w:John Adams|John Adams, s:Novanglus Essays|Novanglus Essays, No. 3
:This language, “the imperial crown of Great Britain,” is not the style of the common law, but of court sycophants.
1787 — w:Alexander_Hamilton|Alexander Hamilton, s:The Federalist Papers/No. 71|Federalist No. 71
:They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as they continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.
1841 — w:Charles Dickens|Charles Dickens, s:Barnaby Rudge|Barnaby Rudge, Ch. 43
:this man, who has crawled and crept through life, wounding the hands he licked, and biting those he fawned upon: this sycophant, who never knew what honour, truth, or courage meant...
1927-29 — w:Mahatma Gandhi|Mahatma Gandhi, s:An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments with Truth|An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments with Truth, Part II, Preparing for South Africa, translated 1940 by w:Mahadev Desai|Mahadev Desai
:Princes were always at the mercy of others and ready to lend their ears to sycophants.

Derived terms
rel-top|terms derived from sycophant
sycophancy
sycophantic
rel-mid
sycophantish
sycophantism
rel-bottom
Category:Greek derivations
Category:Scripps winning words

et:sycophant
io:sycophant
ru:sycophant
fi:sycophant
ta:sycophant
te:sycophant
vi:sycophant

Revision and Credits for"sycophant"
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