A sycophant is a person who tries to win favor from wealthy or influential people by flattering them. Also known as brown-nosers, teacher’s pets or suck-ups.
Sycophant is from Latin sycophanta, from Greek sykophantēs, from sykon “fig” and phainein “to show, make known.” The original sense was that of an informer, a person who gives information about criminal activities. “Showing the fig” was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers. The gesture was used to taunt an opponent or to make an accusation against someone.