Definition of sycophant in English:



  • A person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

    • ‘Bell was also a sycophant, a Yes man, who could shift his political stance in a heartbeat, talk in circles and dodge any important decision making.’
    • ‘Such an approach belongs to sycophants and losers.’
    • ‘And I suspect that it was this sense of mischief that kept her sane through all those lonely evenings passed at charitable fund-raising events being fawned over by sycophants.’
    • ‘Needless to say, if you only look at what your sycophants write, you're not going to gain much.’
    • ‘History shows that many kings met their tragic ends because they did not pay heed to the advice of faithful courtiers, preferring the honeyed but false words of sycophants.’
    • ‘‘They want sycophants rather than allies,’ said the head of one think tank.’
    • ‘An assortment of hatchet men, opportunists and sycophants gained access to the levers of power.’
    • ‘Only the most sycophantic of the sycophants would even begin to make such a comparison. [In the past] there was at least a real enemy, there were real things to be done.’
    • ‘As time has passed, the meaning of ‘faithful dog’ has changed entirely as when, nowadays, the term is used to describe someone who behaves like a sycophant toward some powerful politician.’
    • ‘Add to that a lifestyle that combines considerable wealth with plenty of free time at a young age, throw in a seemingly unlimited supply of sycophants and it should be no surprise to see the subject destroyed by his own success.’
    • ‘These politicians who boast that they are the paragons of all virtue can easily muster crowds of blindly loyal sycophants who believe that there is great benefit to be derived from such patronage.’
    • ‘Or has he just - since leaving his real band - surrounded himself with other crackheads and sycophants who will continue to humour his excesses?’
    • ‘Surrounded by hot chicks, condescending art critics, lawyers, art collectors and sycophants, the film includes one truly inspiring moment.’
    • ‘It is because elected political sycophants are bought and sold like saltfish that leaders in government and opposition alike ride roughshod over the people's wishes.’
    • ‘However, they're surrounded by sycophants, so they hardly ever get any constructive criticism.’
    • ‘This was a man so obviously lying to himself and others - so obviously acting a part - that not even the toadies and sycophants lined beaming along the front row of the hall could have believed a word of it.’
    • ‘But no facts could alter the thinking of mindless sycophants.’
    • ‘We would rather be that voice than the voice of the sycophants and bootlickers and those hoping for a spot at the trough.’
    • ‘There will be several servile sycophants who will come forward as ‘White Knights’ to regain their lost positions.’
    • ‘Boards cease relating to customers and use ever more rigid methods to control operations down the line. They are shielded by sycophants and expend their energy on mergers and acquisitions.’
    toady, creep, crawler, fawner, flatterer, flunkey, truckler, groveller, doormat, lickspittle, kowtower, obsequious person, minion, hanger-on, leech, puppet, spaniel, uriah heep
    bootlicker, yes-man
    arse-licker, arse-kisser, brown-nose
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (denoting an informer): from French sycophante, or via Latin from Greek sukophantēs informer from sukon fig + phainein to show; the association with informing against the illegal exportation of figs from ancient Athens (recorded by Plutarch) is not substantiated.