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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sycophancy \Syc"o*phan*cy\, n. [Cf. L. sycophantia deceit, Gr. ? false accusation.] The character or characteristic of a sycophant. Hence:

  1. False accusation; calumniation; talebearing. [Obs.]
    --Bp. Hall.

  2. Obsequious flattery; servility.

    The sycophancy of A.Philips had prejudiced Mr. Addison against Pope.
    --Bp. Warburton.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1620s, from from sycophant + -cy, or else from Latin sycophantia, from Greek sykophantia "false accusation, slander; conduct of a sycophant," from sykophantes.


n. The fawning behavior of a sycophant; servile flattery.


n. fawning obsequiousness


Sycophancy is flattery that is very obedient, or an indication of deference to another, to an excessive or servile degree. A user of sycophancy is referred to as a sycophant or, more commonly, a "yes-man".

Alternative phrases are often used such as:

Usage examples of "sycophancy".

Aristion flattered himself he had managed to poise himself on the exact line between a sycophancy the King would despise and an independence the King would condemn.

Their work survives, and when you have assessed the monstrous flattery at its true worth, swept it aside and come down to the real facts of his life, you make the discovery that the proudest title their sycophancy could bestow and his own fatuity accept - Le Roi Soleil, the Sun-King - makes him what indeed he is: a king of opera bouffe.

Pollies and Dollies, the Patties and Jennies, the Corydons and Jemmy Jesamies, all round were throwing up hands and eyes in a sort of rapture, how she would look, with what equal surprise and contempt, doubting her own ears, and sickening at the stuff and the strange sycophancy which induced it.