word wednesday: sycophant

today’s word of the day probably needs a definition for some people as well.

sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

aka, a brown-noser. 

we have another greek background word today (like clew’s greek myth background).

it comes from the greek word sykophantes, which is a false accuser or slanderer, but is literally translated as someone who shows the fig.

showing a fig was probably akin to doing the ol’ ðŸ‘‰ðŸ‘Œ emoji combination (or in real-life combination, as i remember witnessing for the first time on the dance floor at first street station on 18+ night in 1998. someone was trying to get lucky.) (yes, liz, that emoji combination is inappropriate. ðŸ™„ ) showing a fig was sticking your thumb between two fingers (think “got your nose”), which resembles a fig. a fig in those days was symbolic of the female nether regions (for help, sykon also meant vulva).

of course the politicians of the day were too good for such gestures (if only DT held himself to such standards) but lustily urged their followers to taunt their opponents with them (well, that’s something DT would obviously do). so in modern day french and greek, it means just slanderer, but in english it means an insincere flatterer. this shift happened over time, mostly because it’s portrayed as a kind of parasite, speaking untrue things or accusing for the gain of the approval of another. 

 

common-fig-seeds-ficus-carica

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