excessively flattering


unctuous = schmierig, schmeichlerisch, kriecherisch, schwanzwedelnd, geziert (eine selbstgefällige, einschmeichelnde und falsche Ernsthaftigkeit haben oder zeigen) —— unctuous = Beschreibung einer Substanz, die eine fettige, ölige, glatte und schmierige Textur oder Erscheinung hat



“John Bercow was tearful when he announced his decision to retire on October 31st, or at a general election if that comes sooner. But as a connoisseur of political theatre he must have relished the rest of the day. MPs spent much of it singing his praises, sometimes in the most UNCTUOUS terms."

The Economist — ‘Speaker Muted’ (14th September 2019)

“Just as the American people are deeply divided, as evidenced by the 2016 presidential election, so was the Congress on Tuesday night on issues like taxes, health care and race. ‘UNCTUOUS platitudes’, Democratic Representative Nita Lowey said of Trump’s speech shortly after he left the chamber.”

Richard Cowan — Reuters (31st January 2018)

Did you

adjective (formal disapproving)

- unctuous people or behaviour expresses too much praise, interest, friendliness, etc., in a way that is false and unpleasant

- having, revealing, or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

- excessively flattering or ingratiating; oily

- fatty, oily, smooth and greasy in texture or appearance (of a substance)

Cambridge Dictionary /  Oxford Languages / Merriam-Webster


The word "unctuous" derives from the Latin term unctuosus, which is the adjective form of unctus, meaning "anointed" or "greased." The Latin root ungere means "to anoint" or "to smear with oil." In its original usage, "unctuous" referred to the act of applying or having an oily or greasy substance on the skin or hair.

Over time, the meaning of "unctuous" expanded metaphorically to describe people or things that display an excessive or insincere display of politeness, charm, or ingratiating behaviour. It connotes a sense of exaggerated smoothness or superficiality, much like an excessive application of oil or ointment.

The term "unctuous" has retained this figurative sense in modern English and is commonly used to describe someone who is excessively flattering, insincere, or hypocritical in their manner or speech.

Richelieu's Path to Power

In the illustrious court of King Louis XIII, one figure stood out for his extraordinary political ability – Cardinal Richelieu. As chief minister, he wove a powerful web of influence — behind an affable facade, lay a brilliant mind skilled in the art of manipulation.

Richelieu possessed the rare talent to bend others to his will, using smooth-talking and a persuasive demeanour to mask his true intentions.

The Cardinal's influence extended far beyond the palace walls. During the Thirty Years' War his shrewd tactics extended France's power across Europe.

While Richelieu's methods may have lacked sincerity, there was no denying his political genius. Feared and respected in equal measure, he was a force to be reckoned with and a reminder of the unctuous manipulator who left an indelible mark on history.


all talk and no substance, artful, backhanded, beguiling, bootlicking, brown-nosing, calculating, cloying, crafty, cunning, deceitful, deceptive, deceitful, disingenuous, disloyal, dissembling, double-crossing (-dealing), duplicitous, fake, fast-talking, flattering, flimflamming, foxy, glib (-tongued), greasy, guileful, honey-dipped, honeyed, hypocritical, ingratiating, insincere, like butter, Machiavellian, oily (-tongued), phony (-baloney), plastic, scheming, servile, silver-tongued (devil), silky, sly, slick (as an eel, operator), slickster, slimy, smooth (as silk, operator, -talking, -spoken), snake-in-the-grass, snake-like, snake oil salesman, sneaky, subservient, sugarcoated, syrupy (sweet), sweet-talking, toadyish, treacherous, tricky, two-faced, UNCTUOUS, untrustworthy, used car salesman, wheedling, wily

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“How do you handle UNCTUOUS charmers, especially those callers hoping to wheedle their way into selling you something?”

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