FACT FOOD #398

Curry Favor, a word meaning “to seek to gain favour by flattery or attention” came from a French poem Roman de Fauvel, written in the early 1300s; Fauvel was a conniving stallion, and the play was a satire on the corruption of social life. The name Fauvel points to the French fauve (‘chestnut, reddish-yellow, or fawn’), another sense of fauve meaning the class of wild animals whose coats are at least partly brown, and the medieval belief that a fallow horse was a symbol of deceit and dishonesty. The phrase curry Fauvel, then, referred to currying (or combing) the horse, and was turned by later speakers into curry favor.