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I was thinking about social chameleon but it may be a more accurate word(or word combination) for that.

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  • What do you mean by "underhandedly social relationships"? Can you provide some examples? Jul 27, 2020 at 9:59
  • Someone(unqualified) at an academic job getting promoted(at the expense of more qualified people) by having created strong friendships with those responsible for the promotion procedures.
    – Prro Bam
    Jul 27, 2020 at 10:11

2 Answers 2

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Ingratiating, sycophantic, groveling, unctuous, obsequious, and other synonyms could apply to this situation.

These words are all synonyms of each other, so they all have (very) similar meanings.

Sycophantic is defined as:

behaving or done in an obsequious way in order to gain advantage. [Lexico]

Obsequious is defined as:

obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree. [Lexico]

I won't put the rest of the definitions because they are all essentially the same. However, the "best" word for this situation would likely be "sycophantic" because of the "to gain advantage" part of its definition; nonetheless, all of these words have that as a subtextual component.

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A corporate climber or ladder climber might fit here.

While I can't find a dictionary definition that affirms these phrases, Google Ngrams certainly supports them.

They are related to the term social climber which can be found in Merriam-Webster.

Whether you view them as positive, neutral, or negative is really a personal point of view, but increasingly, there are negative connotations.

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