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sycophant is a person who praises others to make themselves look better, usually people in powerful positions. It is phonetically similar to the word psycho, but does not carry the connotation of being crazy. It’s synonyms are brownnoser, flatterer, or backscratcher.

It also makes the word sycophantic and sycophantically.


This comes from the Greek word sykophantēs, and originally was a combination of sykon fig and phainein to show. Even Plutarch didn’t know where the word came from when it was introduced in the Athens legal system, though he suggests it has something to do with with laws forbidding the exportation of figs.

The word has declined in usage over the last few centuries.


The author kept repeated one point across eight pages, making it seem like a sycophant’s account of the PM, but the publisher asked me not to ‘touch’ the matter,” recalled Damini. [The Hindu]

In any group, there are generally one or two people who believe the best way to get ahead is to be a sycophant. [Forbes]

Sangria might appear like a promising choice but even the biggest sycophant in the office won’t want to chop fruit for 45 minutes. [The Guardian]

The APC also advised the President to be wary of political sycophants, attention-seeking groups and their allies such as the Jonathan Actualisation Movement (JAM), which according to it, cannot save him from imminent electoral woes. [Sahara Reporters]

As a Pats beat reporter for every step of Bill Belichick’s empire here, it insults my intelligence when fans or sycophantic media types try and sell that the Patriots defense has improved by leaps and bounds. [Gloucester Times]

“Angela’s Charlies” is the name given to the EU’s reformist presidents and prime ministers who sycophantically cluster around German Chancellor Angela Merkel (“Charlie” is British slang for a fool). [Carnegie Europe]