n. pl. toad·ies
A person who flatters or defers to others for self-serving reasons; a sycophant.
tr. & intr.v. toad·ied, toad·y·ing, toad·ies
To be a toady to or behave like a toady. See Synonyms at fawn1.
Word History: The first toadies were actually toad-eaters. The word toady has its origins in the practices of seventeenth-century quacks and charlatans who claimed that they could draw out poisons from poisoning victims. Toads were thought to be poisonous, and so these quacks would have an attendant eat—or pretend to eat—a toad. The quacks could then make a show of drawing out the poison and saving their helpers' lives. Since eating a toad is an unpleasant job, these attendants came to epitomize the type of person who would do anything for a superior, and toadeater became the name for a flattering, fawning parasite. In the eighteenth century, the noun toadeating meaning "sycophancy, flattery," appeared, and there was even a verb to toadeat, meaning "to flatter, fawn upon." For example, the correspondence of Caroline Fox, Lady Holland (1723-1774), contains the following comment in a letter to her sister, the Duchess of Leinster: She [a family member] has told Lord Holland all the privileges the old Duchess expects. He says you have them all already, you are so toad-eated. Later, in the nineteenth century, the word toady, "sycophant, flatterer," came into use, and it was apparently formed directly from the word toad rather than shortened from toadeater.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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