This is odd…very odd.In fact to curry favour gets odder the more you look at the phrase. That’s because favour is not a favour……..It’s a horse.
Confused? Well read on and all will be explained.
Once upon a time, six or seven hundred years ago there was a French allegorical poem called the Roman de Fauvel by a fellow called Gervais du Bus.
It’s about a horse called Fauvel who leaves his stable, moves into the biggest room in his master’s house, and installs his own haystack.
The point of the allegory is that the second the horse appears to be in charge everybody suddenly wants to be his friend and people traveled far and wide to groom Fauvel.
For some reason this story was immensely popular and got translated into English, with the name Fauvel unchanged. However, the English word for grooming a horse was currying. It’s a verb that is, apparently, still used in equestrian circles. Thus a phrase developed. Anybody who sycophantically went round trying to be nice to someone was said to be currying fauvel.
However, once the old French allegory had been forgotten, the idea of currying fauvel started to look rather odd. What the hell was a fauvel? Nobody knew any more. So fauvel mutated into “favour”