curry favor

idiomatic phrase

: to seek to gain favor by flattery or attention
… eager to curry favor with superiors by reporting any trivial transgression.Robert Wallace and H. Keith Meltony
Instead of rolling back environmental regulations to curry favor with corporate interests, California has passed the toughest green laws in the nation …Alexander Nazaryan

Examples of curry favor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ironically, the administration’s announcement does not focus on trade, but rather on currying favor with labor unions, progressives, populist conservatives, and voters in manufacturing swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Narupat Rattanakit, National Review, 31 May 2024 Government ethics lawyers condemned Trump’s decision to hold onto his vast business empire after taking office, saying the decision provided ample opportunity for people who want to influence U.S. policy to curry favor with the president. Farnoush Amiri, Twin Cities, 21 May 2024 Is the university implementing its vaccine mandate to curry favor with the NIH? Nicholas Tampio, Baltimore Sun, 11 Mar. 2024 The perfect venue, the CEO of the Chinese hacking company thought, to hold a Lunar New Year banquet currying favor with government officials. Associated Press, Quartz, 8 Mar. 2024 The Mayor’s Fund, which started under former Mayor Eric Garcetti to pay for civic programs, has faced criticism in the past for giving the impression that people could use their donations to curry favor in the mayor’s office. Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 This campaign lets the player curry favor with the larger forces in the Imperium such as the Spacing Guild or the Bene Gesserit. Rob Wieland, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024 The only ones in attendance who aren't there to curry favor or propel themselves further in the industry are Mary, now a disgruntled theater critic who lambasts Frank for selling out, and his wife Gussie Carnegie (Krystal Joy Brown). Emlyn Travis,, 10 Oct. 2023 Biden's administration already signed off on arguably the most contentious oil and gas projects earlier in his tenure, so the potential to curry favor with environmentalists and younger voters on climate is limited. Dan Eberhart, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'curry favor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Note: The idiom curry favor is an alteration by folk etymology of curry favell, Middle English core favele, currey favel "to use insincere flattery to gain personal advantage," literally, "to curry the fallow-colored horse," a translation of Middle French estriller/torchier Fauvel "to use trickery, deceive," literally, "to curry/clean Fauvel" ("the fallow one," as a name for a horse). Old & Middle French falve, fauve "brownish-yellow, light brown (of an animal's coat)" and its derivatives have the additional meaning "false, hypocritical," probably in part due to the similarity in sound to faux "false"; hence la fauve asnele (ca. 1170) "hypocrisy, falsehood" (literally, "the fallow ass"), fauvoier (13th century) "to deceive," Old Occitan falveta "art of beguiling." Fauvel and Fauvain as horse's names are the focus of various idioms, as estriller Fauvel "to curry Fauvel," that denote duplicitous behavior. In the satirical French poem, Roman de Fauvel, composed ca. 1310-16, a horse or donkey named Fauvel becomes king by the grace of Fortuna ("Lady Fortune") and, having taken possession of the palace stable, is curried and cleaned by the hypocritical nobility and clergy of the realm.

First Known Use

1557, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of curry favor was in 1557

Dictionary Entries Near curry favor

Cite this Entry

“Curry favor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

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