sycophant 1530s (in L. form sycophanta), "informer, talebearer, slanderer," from L. sycophanta, from Gk. 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 cunt (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.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • Sycophant — Syc o*phant, n. [L. sycophanta a slanderer, deceiver, parasite, Gr. ? a false accuser, false adviser, literally, a fig shower; ? a fig + ? to show: cf. F. sycophante. The reason for the name is not certainly known. See {Phenomenon}.] 1. An… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sycophant — Syc o*phant, v. t. [CF. L. sycophantari to deceive, to trick, Gr. ?.] 1. To inform against; hence, to calumniate. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Sycophanting and misnaming the work of his adversary. Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. To play the sycophant toward;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sycophant — Syc o*phant, v. i. To play the sycophant. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sycophant — index parasite Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • sycophant — *parasite, favorite, toady, lickspittle, bootlicker, hanger on, leech, sponge, sponger Analogous words: blandisher, cajoler, wheedler (see corresponding verbs at COAX): fawner, truckler (see corresponding verbs at FAWN) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • sycophant — [n] person who caters to another adulator, backscratcher*, backslapper*, bootlicker*, brownnoser*, doormat*, fan, fawner, flatterer, flunky*, groupie*, groveler, handshaker*, hanger on*, lackey, minion, parasite, politician, puppet, slave;… …   New thesaurus

  • sycophant — ► NOUN ▪ a person who flatters someone important in a servile way. DERIVATIVES sycophancy noun sycophantic adjective. ORIGIN originally denoting an informer: from Greek sukophant s, from sukon fig + phainein to show , perhaps with reference to… …   English terms dictionary

  • sycophant — [sik′ə fənt, sik′əfant΄] n. [L sycophanta < Gr sykophantēs, informer, lit., maker of the sign of the fig < sykon, fig + phainein, to show: see FANTASY] a person who seeks favor by flattering people of wealth or influence; parasite; toady… …   English World dictionary

  • Sycophant — A sycophant (from the Greek συκοφάντης sykophántēs ) is a servile person who, acting in his or her own self interest, attempts to win favor by flattering one or more influential persons, with an undertone that these actions are executed at the… …   Wikipedia

  • sycophant — UK [ˈsɪkəfənt] / US noun [countable] Word forms sycophant : singular sycophant plural sycophants formal an insulting word for someone who praises rich or powerful people in order to gain an advantage Derived words: sycophancy UK [ˈsɪkəfənsɪ] / US …   English dictionary

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