Curry favor is an idiom that is based on an eggcorn, which is a misheard word or phrase that retains its original meaning. We will examine the meaning of the term curry favor, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
Curry favor means to ingratiate oneself by flattery or overattentive behavior. The term curry favor is an eggcorn of the phrase curry Fauvel. Fauvel was the main character in the poem Roman de Fauvel, which was written by Gervais de Bus and Chaillou de Pesstain in the fourteenth century. Fauvel was a chestnut horse that somehow moved into his owner’s home and became the master. In the story, various political office-holders and clerics sought his good graces. The poem became well known in Britain, and the phrase currying Fauvel came to mean flattering a false leader for personal gain. In time, the poem Roman de Fauvel was forgotten, and the phrase currying Fauvel turned into the eggcorn currying favor. The word curry, in this case, means to rub down a horse, derived from the Anglo-French word curreier which means to put in order or prepare. The British spelling of this phrase is curry favour. Related phrases are curries favor, curried favor, currying favor.
“Those who think that they are beholden to the very unions that are trying to desperately to maintain power and are answering to those people who are trying to curry favor, that is not what this is about,” Bevin said. (The Lexington Herald Leader)
He curried favor with fellow Democrats like President Woodrow Wilson and a rising assistant secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who looked favorably on San Diego’s warm-water port. (The San Diego Union-Tribune)