“The actress was constantly surrounded by sycophants, each of whom had their own ulterior motives.”

As used above, what is the best definition of sycophant?

Check your answer!

Choice A - One who is obviously treacherous and should be avoided
Choice B - One who is genuinely sweet and adoring of another person
Choice C - One who heaps attention on another and often for selfish gain
Choice D - One who is charitable and often responsible for the care of others


Sycophant (noun) – a person who heaps hollow praise and flattery on another – especially someone with wealth or power – for their own advancement or personal gain  

Sycophantic (adjective) – like a sycophant; or, flattering and fawning in nature, obsequious  

Sycophantism (noun) – the act of kissing up to someone for personal gain

GRE pro tips:

Sych sounds like “suck,” and a sycophant is someone who tries to suck life (or money) from another – much like a parasite – and they do so by being sickeningly sweet. In the same way that a parasite attaches itself to a host organism for its own benefit (while bringing nothing to the table), a sycophantic person clings to a person of power, wealth, or influence for their own self-interest. A sycophant will fawn or use flattery to ingratiate himself to another in order to leech personal reward. A jetsetter or an heiress might be surrounded by an entourage of kiss-ass sycophants seeking to live the high life – for free!

Example sentences:

“The influencer surrounded herself with sycophants, people dedicated to her promotion and their own advancement.”

“He alienated longtime staffers and replaced them with sycophants and cronies who shared his worldview.”