AskDefine | Define toady

Dictionary Definition

toady n : a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage [syn: sycophant, crawler, lackey] v : try to gain favor by cringing or flattering; "He is always kowtowing to his boss" [syn: fawn, truckle, bootlick, kowtow, kotow, suck up] [also: toadied]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

Noun

Quotations

  • 1929, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, Penguin Books, paperback edition, page 61
    But how could she have helped herself? I asked, imagining the sneers and the laughter, the adulation of the toadies, the scepticism of the professional poet.

Translations

Sycophant flattering others to gain personal advantage

Verb

  1. To behave like a toady (to someone).

Anagrams

Extensive Definition

A sycophant (Gr. (συκοφάντης)) is a servile person who, acting in his or her own self interest, attempts to win favor by flattering one or more influential persons, with an undertone that these actions are executed at the cost of his or her own personal pride, principles, and peer respect. Such a manner is called obsequiousness.
In ancient Greece the word was the counterpart of the Athenian "delator": a public informer.
According to ancient authorities, the word (derived by them from συκος sukos, "fig", and φανης fanēs, "to show") meant one who informed against another for exporting figs (which was forbidden by law) or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig-trees, whether in time of famine or on any other occasion (Plutarch, Life of Solon, 24, 2.). The Oxford English Dictionary, however, states that this explanation, though common, "cannot be substantiated", and suggests that it may refer instead to the insulting gesture of "making a fig" or to an obscene alternate meaning for "fig", namely sykon, which means cunt.
Another old explanation was that fines and taxes were at one time paid in apples, wine and oil, and those who collected such payments in kind were often called sycophants because they publicly handed them in.

Modern usage in other languages

In modern Greek the term has retained its ancient classical meaning, and is still used to describe a slanderer or a calumniator.

In popular culture

  • In Obert Skye's Leven Thumps series of children's books, "sycophant" also refers to a race of small furry creatures whose job is to aid people who have entered Foo.
  • In Andrew Bird's song "Sic of Elephants", he makes a play on words between "elephants" and "sycophants", and describes behavior one might associate with sycophants.

References

See also

toady in Danish: Sykofant
toady in German: Sykophant
toady in Spanish: Sicofanta
toady in Esperanto: Sikofanto
toady in French: Sycophante
toady in Dutch: Sycophant
toady in Polish: Sykofanta
toady in Russian: Сикофант
toady in Finnish: Sykofantti
toady in Swedish: Sykofant

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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