The word sycophant has its origin in the legal system of Classical Athens. Most legal cases of the time were brought by private litigants as there was no police force and only a limited number of officially appointed public prosecutors. By the fifth century BCE this practice had given rise to abuse by “sycophants”: litigants who brought unjustified prosecutions. The word retains the same meaning (“slanderer”) in Modern Greek and French (where it also can mean “informer”). In modern English, the meaning of the word has shifted to that of an “insincere flatterer” (see sycophancy), used to refer to someone practicing sycophancy (i.e.insincere flattery to gain advantage).
Obedient; compliant with someone else’s orders or wishes.
Excessively eager and attentive to please or to obey instructions; fawning, subservient, servile.
Of or pertaining to obsequies, funereal.
One who uses obsequious compliments to gain self-serving favor or advantage from another; a servile flatterer.
One who seeks to gain through the powerful and influential.
An informer; a talebearer.
To inform against; hence, to calumniate.
To play the sycophant toward; to flatter obsequiously.