Sycophant: ‘To show a fig’, Read more:

Sycophant: Comes from the Latin word ‘sycophanta’, which meant something quite different from today, ‘slanderer’ (c 1500s).

‘Sycophanta’ has its roots in the Greek ‘sykophantes’ which comes from a combination of ‘skyon’ meaning ‘fig’, and ‘phainein’ meaning ‘to show’. ‘To show a fig’ was a vulgar gesture in Greek times made by pushing the thumb between two fingers – the gesture was supposed to resemble a fig which was considered to be symbolic of a vulva. The idea being that Greek politicians would be kind to their peer’s faces but behind their backs would result to vulgar slander.


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