American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A tale-bearer or informer in general.
- n. A parasite; a mean flatterer; especially, a flatterer of princes and great men.
- n. Synonyms Parasite, Sycophant (see parasite), fawner, toady, toad-eater, flunkey.
- Parasitical; servile; obsequious; sycophantic.
- To give information about, or tell tales of, in order to gain favor; calumniate.
- To play the sycophant toward; flatter meanly and officiously.
- To play the sycophant.
- n. One who uses compliments to gain self-serving favor or advantage from another.
- n. One who seeks to gain through the powerful and influential.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. obsolete An informer; a talebearer.
- n. A base parasite; a mean or servile flatterer; especially, a flatterer of princes and great men.
- v. obsolete To inform against; hence, to calumniate.
- v. To play the sycophant toward; to flatter obsequiously.
- v. To play the sycophant.
- n. a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage
- First attested in 1537. From Latin sȳcophanta ("informer, trickster"), from Ancient Greek συκοφάντης (sukophantēs), itself from σῦκον (sukon, "fig") + φαίνω (phainō, "I show, demonstrate"). The gesture of "showing the fig" was a vulgar one, which was made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, which is itself symbolic of a (sykon 'vagina' also meant vulva). The story behind this etymology is 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. (Wiktionary)
- Latin sȳcophanta, informer, slanderer, from Greek sūkophantēs, informer, from sūkon phainein, to show a fig (probably originally said of denouncers of theft or exportation of figs) : sūkon, fig + phainein, to show. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“It is interesting, this Dwight Shrute troll who takes the moniker of the simpering sycophant from the very funny TV program The Office.”
“Funny, I heard the word sycophant used by of all people, Mark Levin, to describe people so desperate to win that they would distort the truth in any way to to do it.”
“You either have a very peculiar understanding of the word sycophant, or very little familiarity with my posting record...”
“Since the law was abused in order to accuse the innocent, the name sycophant was given to calumniators and to the too numerous class of informers at Athens who subsisted on the money their denunciations brought them.”
“The proper meaning of the word sycophant was this: There was a law in Athens which prohibited the importation of figs. The sycophant”
“My hunch is, Lieberman sees the direction of the political winds, and hopes to convince Democrats that while he’s been a McCain sycophant, he’s always been “respectful” towards Obama.”
“Unless the fleet is looking for a new sycophant, that is ...”
“Someone in Denver, who doesn't like Democrats, can spell "sycophant".”
“According to news reports, Fallon derided Petraeus as a "sycophant" and told him to his face that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit.”
“Sources say that Dr. Frist began the lunch by asking, "What kind of sycophant would you like me to be, Mr. President?”
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