Friday, October 24, 2008

Flattery and sycophants

The SAT Question of the Day below reminds us of one of our favorite words -- sycophant -- and two of our favorite TV sycophants, Smithers and Eddie Haskell (right).

His inclination to succumb to flattery made him ------- to the ------- of people who wished to take advantage of him.

A. immune . . predilection
B. prejudicial . . intentions
C. susceptible . . cajolery
D. resistant . . blandishments
E. amenable . . rejection

sycophant n. a servile, self-seeking flatterer; a suck-up; a brown-nose; an a**-kisser
From the Greek word sykophantes and Latin word sycophanta for an informer or swindler.
Interesting that these words come down to us virtually unchanged over thousands of years. Perhaps sycophants have pretty much remained the same in different ages and cultures, so the word has remained the same as well.

The character Mr. Burns in The Simpsons would be lost without his trusty sycophant, Smithers.

sycophantic adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of a sycophant: fawning, obsequious

"Is that a new vacuum cleaner, Mrs. Cleaver?" asked the ever-sycophantic Eddie Haskell, adding, "Isn't it wonderful what they're doing with modern conveniences these days?"

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