Posted by: Natalie | March 2, 2010

Word of the Day: Sycophant


Word Origins: this word meaning insincere flattery comes direct from the Greek sukophantes which has a completely different meaning! Sukopahntes was a word that described a ‘fig-shower’ (someone who showed an abusive gesture, not how I initially read is as having a shower in figs! Doh!); this meant that you put your thumb in your mouth towards a person to insult them (think of Romeo and Juliet, ‘I bite my thumb at thee’). As the word suko meant ‘fig’, the word sukophantes began to be used as a ‘swear word’ to replace the thumb biting.

Eventually this word became synonymous with ‘snitches’ and informants. These people became popular with Law enforcers, who would show ingratiating behaviour towards them in order to get as much information as possible. This behaviour was known as sukophantes, which in turn created sycophants, men who flattered the criminals insincerely to find the answers to various crimes.

Urban Dictionary Definition:

  1. someone who kisses ass to get ahead in life, often claiming positions above hardworking people.
  2. A suck up.
  3. A psychopathic cousin of the elephant.

Nat’s Definition:

  • MPs, Politicians, any smarmy individual in power.
  • Children and adults when they want something from you.
  • Two-faced women!

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