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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



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 role 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)