Synonym Chooser

How does the noun parasite differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of parasite are leech, sponge, sycophant, and toady. While all these words 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

When is it sensible to use leech instead of parasite?

While the synonyms leech and parasite are close in meaning, leech stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one's own advantage.

a leech living off his family and friends

When is sponge a more appropriate choice than parasite?

The synonyms sponge and parasite are sometimes interchangeable, but sponge stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger.

a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout

When would sycophant be a good substitute for parasite?

The words sycophant and parasite are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, sycophant adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation.

a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants

In what contexts can toady take the place of parasite?

The meanings of toady and parasite largely overlap; however, toady emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker.

cultivated leaders of society and became their toady

Thesaurus Entries Near parasite

Cite this Entry

“Parasite.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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