Where does the term “toady” originate and What does toady mean?

The makers of nostrums still loudly proclaim and advertise the remarkable curative powers of their remedies, sometimes claiming that they will cure anything from falling hair to ingrown toenails.

The charlatans and quacks of the seventeenth century were no less modest.

In fact, they went further. It was sincerely, though mistakenly, believed at that time that anyone so unfortunate as to eat a toad’s leg instead of a frog’s leg would surely die.

Toads were thought to be deadly poison.

Charlatans, taking advantage of that superstition, sometimes employed a helper who, under compulsion, would eat (or pretend to eat) a toad, whereupon his master would promptly demonstrate the remarkable properties of the remedy that he sold and, ostensibly, save the life of his helper.

Such a helper became referred to as a toad-eater.

And because anyone who would eat such a repulsive and dread creature would needs be wholly subject to his master, both toad-eater and its diminutive form, toady, became terms for one who fawns upon or is subservient to another.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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