- a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
Origin of sycophant
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sycophantism
Thus, he shows the bad tendencies of avarice and love-intrigues, and the meanness of sycophantism and legacy-hunting.History of English Humour, Vol. 1 (of 2)
Alfred Guy Kingan L'Estrange
- a person who uses flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence; toady
Word Origin and History for sycophantism
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.