sycophant was our Word of the Day on 08/27/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of sycophant in a Sentence
- His press conference on January 11 was all aimed toward a single moment. The President was at his rostrum at the Élysée, with a crowd of courtiers, journalists, and sycophants herded behind a velvet rope. One reporter was allowed across the rope to put the same question, in exactly the same words, as he had put when Chirac had been nearing the end of his first term: Would he perhaps consider standing for a further five years? —Julian Barnes, New York Review, 29 Mar. 2007
- And swirling all around were coteries of agents, managers, execs, and moneymen; publicists and journalists, gawkers and sycophants. —Daniel Fierman et al., Entertainment Weekly, 9 June 2006
- Where his father liked to have sycophants, he likes to be with intellectuals. He likes confrontation. —Franklin Foer, New Republic, 14 Jan. 2002
when her career was riding high, the self-deluded actress often mistook sycophants for true friends
Recent Examples of sycophant from the Web
Employees who persisted in doing so were usually marginalized or fired, while sycophants were promoted.
It’s also why sycophants entrenched in and defending the status quo are terrified.
Mostly, Getty surrounds himself with hangers-on and sycophants, prodding what amounts to his royal court to debate who loves him the most.
Kim Jung Un, urging his nation of sycophants on in wildly over-the-top applause, which has a clap-hard-or-die feel to it.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sycophant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
In ancient Greece, sykophantēs meant "slanderer." It derives from two other Greek words, sykon (meaning "fig") and phainein (meaning "to show or reveal"). How did fig revealers become slanderers? One theory has to do with the taxes Greek farmers were required to pay on the figs they brought to market. Apparently, the farmers would sometimes try to avoid making the payments, but squealers—fig revealers—would fink on them, and they would be forced to pay. Another possible source is a sense of the word fig meaning "a gesture or sign of contempt" (as thrusting a thumb between two fingers). In any case, Latin retained the "slanderer" sense when it borrowed a version of sykophantēs, but by the time English speakers in the 16th century borrowed it as sycophant, the squealers had become flatterers.
Origin and Etymology of sycophant
Synonym Discussion of sycophant
- a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites
- a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants
- cultivated leaders of society and became their toady
- a leech living off his family and friends
- a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout
SYCOPHANT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of sycophant for English Language Learners
: a person who praises powerful people in order to get their approval
Seen and Heard
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