1 of 2


plural toadies
: one who flatters in the hope of gaining favors : sycophant


2 of 2


toadied; toadying

intransitive verb

: to behave as a toady : engage in sycophancy
toadyism noun

Did you know?

We can thank old-time toadeaters for toady. In 17th-century Europe, a toadeater was a showman's assistant whose job was to make the boss look good. The toadeater would eat (or pretend to eat) what were supposed to be poisonous toads. The charlatan in charge would then "save" the toad-afflicted assistant by expelling the poison. It's little wonder that such assistants became symbolic of extreme subservience, and that toadeater became a word for any obsequious underling. By the early 1800s, it had been shortened and altered to toady, our current term for a servile self-seeker. By the mid-1800s, toady was also being used as a verb meaning "to engage in sycophancy."

Choose the Right Synonym for toady


parasite, sycophant, toady, leech, sponge mean a usually obsequious flatterer or self-seeker.

parasite applies to one who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence or is useless to society.

a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites

sycophant adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation.

a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants

toady emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker.

cultivated leaders of society and became their toady

leech stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one's own advantage.

a leech living off his family and friends

sponge stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger.

a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout


fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower mean to behave abjectly before a superior.

fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention.

waiters fawning over a celebrity

toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude.

toadying to his boss

truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior.

truckling to a powerful lobbyist

cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility.

a cringing sycophant

cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people.

cowering before a bully

Examples of toady in a Sentence

Noun She's a real toady to the boss. no one liked the office toady, who spent most of her time complimenting the boss on what a great job he was doing Verb He's always toadying to the boss. a satirical novel about an amoral go-getter who toadies his way to the top of the corporate ladder
Recent Examples on the Web
One of those systems is legitimate media, which Trump constantly berates, along with his toadies like Kari Lake, the unsuccessful candidate for Arizona governor, who attacks any media that doesn’t spout the company line. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 4 Aug. 2023 Nicholas Hoult, playing the titular toady Renfield in a new movie about Dracula’s assistant, bemoans his lot in life and dreams of breaking free of his dark master in a new trailer for Renfield. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2023 And then there was Art Carney, doing a vaudeville-era slapstick routine for some Empire toadies. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 12 Mar. 2023 Some see him as a courageous reformer committed to a more democratic socialist vision, while others depict him as a toady who needlessly compromised the livelihoods of millions of people by subjecting them to a traumatic economic transition. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 29 Sep. 2022 Thomas Rowlandson, Frederick George Byron and Isaac Cruikshank — used their pens to paint statesman Edmund Burke as a mere toady to monarchy, and radical activist Thomas Paine as an alcohol-sodden and destabilizing mercenary. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Apr. 2022 Some saw her as a toady who was given access because of her reputation for going easy on interviewees. New York Times, 9 Feb. 2022 After years of being called a Trump toady, the praise must have felt good. Michael D'antonio, CNN, 6 Feb. 2022 Polls show Newsom could be recalled in less than three weeks and a Trump toady installed in his place. Seth Liss, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2021
But without Logan’s presence, Tom’s penchant for toadying and betrayal has nowhere to play off. Get our free weekly newsletter Sign up for CNN Opinion’s newsletter. Gene Seymour, CNN, 12 Apr. 2023 Fox News has long been accused of peddling Trump’s falsehoods and toadying up to the former president. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 27 Feb. 2023 And snobs are accused of toadying to aristocratic types. P.j. O'Rourke, Town & Country, 15 Sep. 2016 Instead, most of the film’s first half is devoted to the father’s toadying to his armed superiors while always trying to find a little stray stash for himself. Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 May 2018 For most of the action, the title character is in a coma and we are tossed into the frenzies of the toadying Soviet officials hoping to succeed him. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, 1 Mar. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'toady.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



by shortening & alteration from toadeater

First Known Use


1826, in the meaning defined above


circa 1859, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of toady was in 1826


Dictionary Entries Near toady

Cite this Entry

“Toady.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
plural toadies
: a person who flatters another in the hope of receiving favors


2 of 2 verb
toadied; toadying
: to behave like a toady
toadyism noun

More from Merriam-Webster on toady

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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