I read a comment, the other day, that one of the problems facing industry bodies was the “duchessing” of their representatives by governments.
Being part of a democracy and not an aristocracy, I was not sure what this meant, so had to go to Google.
For the interest of members, I have posted some of the definitions below:
“To court or curry favour for political or business advantage”
“Heaped with insincere praise”
“Overwhelm with flattering attention”
“Flatter or obsequiously (servile, compliant) fawning”
To curry favour?
Apparently this has nothing to do with Indian food. It comes instead from an Old French verb conraier - 'to prepare', 'to put in order'. This is the same source as the name for the rubbing down and dressing of horses - curry-combing.
Then, the second word was originally not 'favour' but 'favel'.
John Palsgrave's Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse [The clarification of
the French language], 1530, records a curryfavell as 'a flatterar'.
Favel comes from the 1310 poem by the French royal clerk Gervais du Bus - Roman de Fauvel [The Romance of Fauvel]. That morality tale relates the story of Fauvel, an ambitious and vain donkey, who deceives and corrupts the greedy leaders of church and state. The name Fauvel or Favvel, which is formed from 'fau-vel' (in English 'veiled lie'), is an acrostic made from the initial letters of a version of the seven deadly sins: flaterie (flattery/pride), avarice (greed/gluttony), vilanie (wrath), variété (inconstancy), envie (envy), and lacheté (cowardice).
In the poem, the rich and powerful humiliate themselves by bowing down and stroking the coat of the false leader, i.e. by 'currying Fauvel'.
So to Curry Favour is to try to make someone like you or support you by doing things to please them.
Now, getting back to the Duchessing and Aristocrats caused me to recall Peter Spencer’s comment whilst on the Tower of Hope, that we “are in a democracy not an aristocracy”, although this is becoming much harder to believe, given the decisions that are being made by the Government without any “real” consultation.