Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 18, 2021 is:
toady TOH-dee noun
: one who flatters in the hope of gaining favors : sycophant
The editorial unfairly characterizes the appointee as one of the mayor’s toadies, ignoring her long record of service to the community.
“The series’ characters were borrowed from its British parent—the buffoonish boss, the over-the-top toady, the everyman prankster and the sweet receptionist—but the delightful journeys of Michael, Dwight, Jim and Pam belonged entirely to the talent and appeal of the American writers and actors behind them.” — Kelly Lawler, USA Today, 24 Mar. 2020
Did you know?
We can thank old-time toadeaters for toady. In 17th-century Europe, a toadeater was a showman’s assistant whose job was to make the boss look good. The toadeater would eat (or pretend to eat) what were supposed to be poisonous toads. The charlatan in charge would then “save” the toad-afflicted assistant by expelling the poison. It’s little wonder that such assistants became symbolic of extreme subservience, and that toadeater became a word for any obsequious underling. By the early 1800s, it had been shortened and altered to toady, our current term for a servile self-seeker. By the mid-1800s, toady was also being used as a verb meaning “to engage in sycophancy.”