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Is there a catchphrase to describe a subordinate whose knee-jerk reaction is to aggressively verbally defend their boss from any perceived slight sometimes without actually understanding the issue or even when it's not unambiguously an attack on their boss or their boss himself probably wouldn't care? (Something historical maybe or borrowing on a fictional character?)

  • In the US experience, the first thing that comes to mind is a sports analogy, the offense defending their quarterback. – Fattie Feb 28 at 12:14
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    "Jeeves" (of the "Jeeves and Wooster" stories) might fit some scenarios. – Hot Licks Feb 28 at 12:51
  • Maybe "attack dog". – James Feb 28 at 15:51
  • @James I like the sound of "attack dog" but do you have a source? – nzn Mar 3 at 7:11
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Your question and descriptions would suggest that "lackey" is quite fitting. There are a variety of context dependent synonyms that also might be used.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/lackey

https://www.freethesaurus.com/lackey

  • Correct me if I'm I think this, like "boot-lick" and the like just describes subservience to but not active defense of the patron. I'm thinking more in terms of foot-soldier. Hey maybe foot-soldier is right? – nzn Mar 1 at 14:39
  • No, it does not mean to conjure "boot-lick" imagery. It means something akin to "fawning loyalty ", a "yes man", or a "servile follower". – user22542 Mar 1 at 14:55
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“Brown-noser” and “suck-up” come to mind, but they are quite rude. And they require hyphens, which I don’t really appreciate. Can someone come up with a more neutral term, preferably non-hyphenated?

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A phrase that is often used of such situations is blind loyalty.

Her blind loyalty to the Dean makes reasonable discussion of these issues nearly impossible.

It doesn't necessarily involve aggressive verbal defense, but could.

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In the interest of using "something historical", let me exhort you to join the good fight to reclaim the original sense of Chauvinism:

Borrowed from French chauvinisme (“idealistic devotion to Napoleon”), named for Nicolas Chauvin, a legendary and excessively patriotic soldier of the French First Republic. The figure of Chauvin became especially famous as a character in the play La Cocarde Tricolore by the Cogniard brothers.

(Also, tangentially, I feel compelled to mention that I don't think "catchphrase" really applies here, but regardless.)

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After some research I think the word I'm looking for is "goon", in the second definition here:

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/goon

It implies both a faithful guard and someone foolish. Also implied in the first definition here:

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Goons

Although the idea of "hired" seems prevalent here, I think that colloquially it can be used to portray the idea of being faithful even if not for hire, and generally non-calculating.

  • Goon is not a good fit to describe "an over-protective subordinate". Please edit your answer to include a published definition of goon that supports the meaning the question has asked for. Note that the system has flagged your answer for potential deletion as a low-quality post, most likely because it's too short and it's unsubstantiated. For further guidance, see How to Answer. :-) – Reinstate Monica Mar 2 at 1:22

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