1 : to attempt to ingratiate oneself : toady
2 : to curry favor with (as by flattery)
Did You Know?
It began innocently enough: a shiny apple for the teacher, a young student's gift (OK, bribe) given in the hope that classroom high jinks would be forgotten or forgiven. The college students of the 1920s tried a more sophisticated version of the trick, polishing professorial egos with compliments in the hopes of getting a better grade. Because of its similarity to the "apple for the teacher" practice, college students dubbed that grade-enhancement strategy apple-polishing. But the idea quickly lost its luster and by 1935 the verb apple-polish had picked up negative connotations. Nowadays, the apple-polisher (academic or otherwise) is viewed in the same much-maligned class as the toady, sycophant, and bootlicker.
"There still might be time to apple-polish the boss." - Garry Smits, Florida Times-Union, October 30, 2008
"One of the reasons unions (and step increases) exist is to eliminate cronyism or favoritism. No teacher has to apple-polish the principal to get a raise." - John Jones, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, June 11, 2011
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of apple-polish: t _ _ c _ le. The answer is …
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