Curry Favour

Meanings of “Curry Favour”

The phrase “curry favour” or “curry favor” means to try to gain some advantage, or benefit from somebody through flattery. It also means to try to win something through a pretend courtesy or flattery.

Origin of “Curry Favour”

The phrase “curry favor” is stated to have been derived from the name of the mythical horse, Fauvel. It was first used by Alexander Barclay in The Mirrour of Good Manners, published way back in 1510 where it goes as “curry fauvour,” which means the same thing.

However, its spellings underwent a change during this long period with these American spellings, which are now extensively used in the sense of flattery when trying to get something in the official circles.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The History of England from the Accession of James II by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Politicians, who, in 1807, sought to curry favour with George the Third by defending Caroline of Brunswick, were not ashamed, in 1820, to curry favour with George the Fourth by persecuting her. But in 1820, as in 1807. The whole body of working men was fanatically devoted to her cause. So it was Monmouth.

This passage tells about the politicians, who flattered George III when getting favors. The same person came forward to the next king and so on. This continuity of currying favor represented the same way politicians were fanatically devoted to the next one. The phrase is used in its actual meaning as intended.

Example #2

The Sacred Gate: Volume 11 by Ping Fan Lao Wo Niu

On the contrary, some cultivators thought that Chen Mow said this to curry favor with Head Chief and the rest. Who would not want to curry favor with the Martial Arts Alliance, the Martial Saint of the eighteenth continents of the Nine Regions?


The Martial Arts Alliance smiled happily and said; “Alright, then I’ll thank little friend.” He know that Chen Mow as definitely not trying to curry favor with the Martial Arts Alliance and curry favor with him.

In this passage, the protagonist discusses with Chen Mo’s farmers, claiming that he was the saint of the Nine Regions. while everybody rushed to curry his favor for being the head of the Martial Arts Alliance. Interesting thing is that he knows that Chen Mow is doing this for him in his personality, and for the alliance itself. Therefore, the phrase has been used as a metaphor and also a direct meaning.

Example #3

The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

i am a member of that synagogue chiefly because it is a fashionable synagogue. I often convict myself of currying favor with the German Jews. But then German-American Jews curry favor with Portuguese-American Jews, just as we all curry favor with Gentiles and as American gentiles curry favor with the aristocracy of Europe.

In this passage, the first-person narrator states that although he had been a member of the synagogue, different communities curry favor of the different aristocracies, for it was the question of their survival. The phrase is used in the literal sense where the German-American Jews try to gain the favor of Portuguese and European aristocrats.

Example #4

 Model Worker by Magazine

And I’ve been shirking my duty
So I’ve been sending gifts to curry favour

But because I love you
And because you love me
A model worker
I’ll willingly be

These lines explain how the speaker loves his beloved and wants to be with her. He is of the view that he is sending gifts to win her love, for both loves each other, and that he wants her to be a model worker for him.  It is also expected that she would be the one. Therefore, he has used this phrase to show his inclination to flatter her.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Robbie wanted to play cricket with all the senior boys but he knew it wasn’t easy. So, he came up with the idea of currying favor so that he could gain favor in their eyes. Although they have never ever felt it, currying favor sometimes motivates them to act in this way.”

Example #2: “Ana wanted to go to her friend’s party. So, she curried favor to her mother all morning to allow her to return at 12.”

Example #3: “John had always been good at currying favor towards his boss, that was the only explanation to how he’d become a senior manager with no skills.”

Example #4: “Kate was a woman of words and flattering was something she was extremely good at. She always curried favor with other people and got her way.”

Example #5: “Mr. Dane had no patience for people who curried favor as he respected and admired action rather than just words.”