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An assistant is a tool, electronic or otherwise, who or that helps another person accomplish his goals. Some assistants are strictly based at one's place of employment, while others assist with personal, sometimes home-related tasks. In cases where the assistant is heavily relied upon, the assistant may be known as a right-hand man or yes-man.


Yes man

The term yes man is typically used for an employee who agrees with every statement of his or her employer.[1] Some synonyms of yes man are flunky, stooge, suck-up, kiss-ass, and sycophant; all of which have pejorative connotations.[2] Such a person may also be referred to as a lapdog.[3]

Right hand man

Unlike yes man, the term right hand man (also referred to as the "second in command") has positive connotations. The term may be based on the fact that most people are right-handed. Understood this way, the term refers to one who has the responsibility, knowledge and understanding, authority and ability to implement a plan articulated by one in a position of authority.

The term right hand man may also be based on the idea of a king having his adviser sit at his right side. Understood this way, the term refers to one who informs and advises a person in a position of authority, instead of one who implements the plans of authority.

In Ancient Greece, soldiers typically fought in a formation called a phalanx, where co-operation between soldiers was vital. Each soldier carried his shield on his left side, while his right side was protected by the man standing to his right. Understood this way, the term refers to one who is indisposable; a protector. Alternatively, the most experienced soldiers were often placed at the weak spot on the right hand side of a phalanx, where the outermost soldiers were unprotected by an overlapping shield. Over time the right hand side of Ancient Greek armies became a place of honour, where the best troops were stationed to prevent the exposure of this weak point. This could have also lead to the term right hand man.

A biblical explanation also exists; in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, Jesus is said to be "at the right hand of the Father (God)[4].


  1. ^ Merriam Webster online dictionary
  2. ^ Memidex/WordNet and slang usage documented in the Urban Dictionary.
  3. ^ Example of usage: Lapdog Loyalty: A “Yes-Man” Takes One For The President
  4. ^ Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Acts 2:33, Acts 5:31, Acts 7:55, Acts 7:56

See also



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