Friday, April 25, 2008

Sycophant




I don't watch a lot of TV at all but last night in the cool-down period after a rather mediocre episode of The Office, we caught 30 Rock.

The quote of the night was Alec Baldwin's character expressing his disdain for his company's (GE) board of directors, "the most sycophantic group of yes men this side of an Al Franken book signing."

And now for your vocabularic enjoyment:

Sycophant (Dictionary.com)

a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.

Sycophant (Wikipedia)

A sycophant (Gr. (συκοφάντης)) is a servile person who, acting in their own self interest, attempts to win favor by flattering one or more influential person, with an undertone that this is at the cost of their own personal pride, principles, and peer respect.

In ancient Greece the word was the counterpart of the Roman "delator": a public informer.

According to ancient authorities, the word (derived by them from συκο suko, "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.[1]

Another old explanation was that fines and taxes were at one time paid in figs, wine and oil, and those who collected such payments in kind were often called sycophants because they publicly handed them in.[citation needed]


Of course, I liked it because it was Alec Baldwin defaming Al Franken.


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