Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Nice reshaping. Sycophant, I have just discovered, means “showing the fig”, which is putting your thumb between the next two fingers. Unsurprisingly, ‘sykos’ also mean ‘vulva’ in Ancient Greek. But you might well ask how this means ‘slanderer and/or fawning adulator’. My Chambers is noncommittal but online theories include that it’s because you suck up to your patrons by making rude gestures to, or by slandering, their opponents. A far more robust theory is that by adopting a certain position bent over forwards women are being particularly subservient.
Be that as it may, misapplied logic has led 000s of people to the spelling “psychophant”, very few of them intentionally, I suspect. After all, hardly any words begin with “sycho”, though one is an inflammation of the hair follicles called “sychosis”.
PS You might easily misunderstand what your trichologist meant if you were told you were suffering from sychosis and needed your head examined.
Thumbs up. (A thumb gesture that made its way into metaphor along more obvious paths).
This sounded familiar—it turns out Ken posted it back in 2005. But he included only a very brief write-up, so Juan’s updating is useful.