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I am looking for a business friendly language name to describe the action of a person sucking-up (teacher's pet, leech, give your pinky they grab your whole arm person, someone who tries to use another person for their own gain without giving back)

e.g.

John warned Tony that if he went to lunch with his coworker Pete thinking he will gain a friend, Pete will end up acting like a suck-up.

A good word description is acting like a sycophant which has the meaning I am looking for:

Definition: A person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage.

However to say someone is acting like a sycophant in writing in an e-mail or verbally sounds like a strong insult.

I am looking for the formal word for sucking up?

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, curiousdannii, cobaltduck, NVZ, Drew Oct 19 '16 at 15:10

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The implication will still be insulting whatever term you use. How can it then be a business friendly term? (am not the downvoter, BTW) – alwayslearning Oct 19 '16 at 11:31
  • The phrase "brown noser", while still not formal, might work in this context. – BradC Oct 19 '16 at 15:21
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    I've never understood how brown noser isn't considered incredibly vulgar, but I agree with @BradC – Unrelated Oct 25 '16 at 19:50
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One way to avoid sounding insulting would be to circumvent the use of a noun to label the person, using the verb 'ingratiate' instead:

John warned Tony that if he went to lunch with his coworker Pete thinking he will gain a friend, he would eventually realise Pete's only interest was in ingratiating himself.

Ingratiate: "Bring oneself into favour with someone by flattering or trying to please them."

‘a sycophantic attempt to ingratiate herself with the local aristocracy’

Oxford Dictionary definition

  • Agree. Maybe if one uses a noun it sounds insulting for business use as one is labeling the person and not their behavior so ingratiate is a good answer – dfmetro Oct 19 '16 at 12:03
  • It might be worth adding that you could also use the synonym "to curry favor", which arguably sounds a little milder: "John warned Tony that if he went to lunch with his coworker Pete thinking he will gain a friend, he would eventually realise Pete's only interest was to curry favor." The Oxford Dictionary defines this as follows: "Ingratiate oneself with someone through obsequious behaviour." ‘a wimpish attempt to curry favour with the new bosses’ en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/curry_favour – The Advocate Oct 19 '16 at 12:20
  • thanks yes I can use both. So the best answer for business sense it to use ingratiate or try curry favour. – dfmetro Oct 19 '16 at 12:32
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Call him/her a fawner.

It qualifies as an euphemism for sycophant.


fawner:

a person who gives a servile display of exaggerated flattery or affection

  • Still an insult – mplungjan Oct 19 '16 at 11:39
  • I interpret fawner more like admirer which is not really the same as suck-up – dfmetro Oct 19 '16 at 12:04
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You could use the word parasite, but 'Pete' would need to not be present for the conversation.

Parasite: derogatory a person who habitually relies on or exploits others and gives nothing in return.

  • Thank you for your interest and welcome to ELU. Please take the site tour so that you can compose your answers as per the requirements of this site. (Incomplete answers may be deleted). – alwayslearning Oct 19 '16 at 11:53
  • unfortunately it is offensive in a business sense – dfmetro Oct 19 '16 at 12:09
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How about'prig'? Google defines a prig as"a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if they are superior to others".

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