Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



pickthank (plural pickthanks)

  1. A sycophant, a yes-man; one who meddles, tattles, informs (often in order to curry favour).
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act III, Chapter 2,[1]
      Yet such extenuation let me beg,
      As, in reproof of many tales devised,
      which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear,
      By smiling pick-thanks and base news-mongers,
      I may, for some things true, wherein my youth
      Hath faulty wander’d and irregular,
      Find pardon on my true submission.
    • 1628, John Earle, Micro-cosmographie, or, A Piece of the World Discovered; in Essayes and Characters, Characters, 40. A rash man,[2]
      He is a man still swayed with the first reports, and no man more in the power of a pickthank then he.
    • 1755, Eliza Haywood (under the pseudonym Exploralibus), The Invisible Spy, London: T. Garner, Volume 1, Chapter 7, p. 256,[3]
      Why then, sir, your friend is no better than a pickthank for bringing you such idle stories; and I am not afraid to tell him so to his face.
    • 1868, F. H. Doyle, Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford, London: Macmillan, Lecture 2, pp. 49-50,[4]
      Some pickthank contrived to let the little great man know what had taken place, and he, so she informed me, was ungenerous enough to wreak a mean revenge.



pickthank (not comparable)

  1. Of or relating to pickthanks.
    • 1599, Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, Act I, Scene 1,[5]
      This Dodger is mine uncle’s parasite,
      The arrant’st varlet that e’er breathed on earth;
      He sets more discord in a noble house
      By one day’s broaching of his pickthank tales,
      Than can be salved again in twenty years []
    • 1930, Norman Lindsay, Redheap, Sydney: Ure Smith, published 1965, page 107:
      Nevertheless, behind these pick-thank airs Mr. Bandparts was a mellowed man.

Alternative forms[edit]