Origin of sycophantClassical Latin sycophanta from Classical Greek sykophant?s, informer, literally , maker of the sign of the fig from sykon, fig + phainein, to show: see fantasy
An example of a sycophant is someone who agrees with everything his boss says and who brings his boss gifts once a month.
Origin of sycophantLatin sécophanta informer, slanderer from Greek sūkophantēs informer from sūkon phainein to show a fig (perhaps originally said of denouncers of theft or exportation of figs or of persons making a lascivious gesture resembling a fig) sūkon fig phainein to show ; see bhā-1 in Indo-European roots.
- syc′o·phan′tic syc′o·phan′ti·cal
(third-person singular simple present sycophants, present participle sycophanting, simple past and past participle sycophanted)
First attested in 1537. From Latin sÈ³cophanta (“informer, trickster"), from Ancient Greek ÏƒÏ…ÎºÎ¿Ï†Î¬Î½Ï„Î·Ï‚ (sukophantÄ“s), itself from Ïƒá¿¦ÎºÎ¿Î½ (sukon, “fig") + Ï†Î±Î¯Î½Ï‰ (phainÅ, “I show, demonstrate"). The gesture of "showing the fig" was a vulgar one, which was made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, which is itself symbolic of a Ïƒá¿¦ÎºÎ¿Î½ (sukon), which also meant vulva. The story behind this etymology is that politicians in ancient Greece steered clear of displaying that vulgar gesture, but urged their followers sub rosa to taunt their opponents by using it.
- SYCOPHANT (Gr.
- The final act of the cult, the "exaltation" of the fig, with which Reinach compares the "exaltation" of the ear of corn by the hierophant at the Eleusinian mysteries, was performed by the sycophant.
- Again, like the hierophant, the sycophant publicly pronounced the formula of exclusion of certain unworthy persons from the celebration of the mysteries of the fig.
- As the cult of the Phytalidae sank into insignificance beside the greater mysteries, the term sycophant survived in popular language in the sense of an informer or denouncer, whose charges deserved but little consideration.
- A parvenu of the middle classes, he was brutal in his treatment of the lower orders and a sycophant in his behaviour towards the powerful; prodigiously active, ill-obeyedas was the custombut much dreaded.