curry favor, to
To ingratiate oneself to someone Flattery won't work; the only way of currying favor with him is through hard work.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Seek gain or advancement by fawning or flattery, as in Edith was famous for currying favor with her teachers. This expression originally came from the Old French estriller fauvel, "curry the fallow horse," a beast that in a 14th-century allegory stood for duplicity and cunning. It came into English about 1400 as curry favel-that is, curry (groom with a currycomb) the animal-and in the 1500s became the present term.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To seek or gain favor by fawning or flattery.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
curry favor, to
To flatter insincerely in order to get ahead. The term, which has been known since the sixteenth century, comes from a fourteenth-century satirical romance about a horse named Fauvel. This horse was a symbol of cunning bestiality, and to curry (groom) it meant that one was enlisting its services of duplicity and other nasty traits. The English version of Fauvel at first was favel, which by the sixteenth century had been corrupted into “favor.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
To ingratiate oneself through flattery or a willingness to please. “Curry” has nothing to do with the spice—it means to groom, as in the horse-keeping currycomb tool. One of the definitions of “stroke” is “suck up to,” and the image is similar—to get on a person's good side, whether or not flattery is warranted. “Favor” was originally “Fauvel,” the donkey who was the rogue hero of a 14th-century French romance. The image of grooming the beast to get on its good side or to win its favor is now the modern use of the word in the phrase.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price