Alternative formsEdit


A compounding: lick (pass one’s tongue over) + spittle (saliva); the verb may derive by back-formation from the nominal derivation lickspittling (see below).[1]



lickspittle (plural lickspittles)

  1. A fawning toady; a base sycophant.[1]
    • 1857, Charlotte Brontë, The Professor, ch. 5:
      "I've found you out and know you thoroughly, you mean, whining lickspittle!"
    • 1920, Sherwood Anderson, Poor White, ch. 21:
      "You're a suck, a suck and a lickspittle, that's what you are," said the pale man, his voice trembling with passion.
    • 2013 May 23, "Note to politicians: Stop blaming the media for your problems (Editorial)," Globe and Mail (Canada) (retrieved 23 May 2013):
      In Ottawa, Senator Marjory LeBreton claimed in a speech on Wednesday that allegations of spending abuses by her colleagues were “hyped-up media stories” that were inevitable in a “town populated by Liberal elites and their media lickspittles.”
  2. (by extension) The practice of giving empty flattery for personal gain.


Derived termsEdit

  • lickspittling (verbal noun)



lickspittle (third-person singular simple present lickspittles, present participle lickspittling, simple past and past participle lickspittled)

  1. (transitive and intransitive) To play the toady; take the rôle of a lickspittle to please (someone).[1]
    • 1886, Aylmer and Louise Maude (translators), Leo Tolstoy (author), The Light Shines in Darkness, act 1:
      "[Y]ou take his side, and that is wrong! . . . If some young school teacher, or some young lad, lickspittles to him, it's bad enough."



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 ˈlick-spittle” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  2. 2.0 2.1 lick, v.” and “spittle, n.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
Last modified on 16 April 2014, at 19:09