Printable Version
Pronunciation: lik-spit-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A fawning toady, a sycophant, a bootlick, a yes-man.

Notes: Here is a synonym of toady that takes a little longer to pronounce, but is much more of an attention-grabber. For those of you whose imaginations and stomachs find this word difficult, toady is always there. If you like to be noticed, though, this word will work better for you.

In Play: Lickspittles are found high and low: "The corporate lickspittles in Washington often introduce in Congress bills written by lobbyists." They also turn up at home, in the workplace, and all around the neighborhood: "The president's idea of putting a solar powered flashlight into production ASAP was supported by all the lickspittles in upper management, so we are going to do it."

Word History: This rather repulsive word is a combination of the verb lick and the noun spittle, derived from the verb spit. The word refers to someone who so fawns over you that they are willing to lick up your spit. (Excuse me, but it's true.) Both are veteran English words, unborrowed and untainted by outside influence. Lick is a variant of a Proto-Indo-European stem that turns up in most Indo-European languages in the expected local form: Latin lingere, Greek leikhein, and Russian lizat'—all meaning "lick". Lick may be of imitative origin. Hebrew likek and Arabic laqqa "licked" are historically unrelated to the English word, though they sound suspiciously similar. The best explanation is that all these words are onomatopoetic sound imitations.

Dr. Goodword,

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