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Valet (center) and lackey (right) serve wine. Illustration from H. Reuß zu Köstritz: Der korrekte Diener, Paul Parey Verlag, Berlin 1900; p. 21

A lackey or lacquey is a term for a uniformed manservant, in its original meaning (attested 1529, according to the Oxford English Dictionary).

The modern connotation of "servile follower" appeared later, in 1588 (OED).[1]


There are several theories about the origins of the word. By one theory, it is derived from Medieval French laquais, "foot soldier, footman, servant", ultimately from Turkish ulak, literally "a messenger".[1] In Gaelic, it is a surname related to the word for stone, leac → lackey. Lackey can also mean runner, worker, one-upper.

Modern Australian use of the term refers to a blue collar working class man, who is generally over-worked and under-paid.

Usage in popular culture[edit]

Lackey is typically used as a derogatory term for a servant with little or no self-respect who belittles himself in order to gain an advantage.[2] Such advantage is often assumed to be slight, temporary and often illusory.