I am looking for a word that means going along with something you know is wrong in order to get ahead or stay in the good graces of a superior. This could mean knowingly supporting a false interpretation of a situation such that it injures someone else, but not caring because you come out ahead. The word is not "venal," because venal implies bribery.


There are a number of words or phrases that come to mind. An old-fashioned one is a "trimmer." "Sycophant" and "opportunist" at least come close to what you are trying to express, but "opportunist" has a broader field of meaning whereas "sycophant" has a narrower field. "Yes-man" seems exact, but it is informal and may be an Americanism. There are scatological phrases that may apply.


"Biting one's tongue" is slightly more neutral than your example (i.e. it doesn't imply doing it for any particular reason)

To "toe the line" generally does imply that you're doing it unwillingly, because 'fitting in' is important to you, but not because of need for personal advancement, sometimes out of fear.

Or you could go for something less complimentary, like 'ass kisser' 'brown noser' 'sucking up' etc.


Thank you for these suggestions. As I searched online for the exact word for the situation I wanted to describe, I came across the word "hack," meaning, "a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment" (definition found on Dictionary.com). This is pretty close to what I was after.

  • 2
    Consider sell-out. – Dan Bron Oct 2 '17 at 11:22
  • Or we can talk, metaphorically, about someone prostituting themselves (or their principles) in this sense. – user184130 Jun 30 '18 at 8:50
  • A hack can also just mean someone who is not very skilled; they get the job done but not very well. – user184130 Jun 30 '18 at 8:51

You could try


Defined by The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English as:

a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans.
most burglaries are committed by casual opportunists

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.