- fox (n.)
- Old English fox, from West Germanic *fukhs (cf. Old Saxon vohs, Middle Dutch and Dutch vos, Old High German fuhs, German Fuchs, Old Norse foa, Gothic fauho), from Proto-Germanic base *fuh-, corresponding to PIE *puk- "tail" (cf. Sanskrit puccha- "tail").
The bushy tail is also the source of words for "fox" in Welsh (llwynog, from llwyn "bush"); Spanish (raposa, from rabo "tail"); and Lithuanian (uodegis "fox," from uodega "tail"). Metaphoric extension to "clever person" is early 13c. Meaning "sexually attractive woman" is from 1940s; but foxy in this sense is recorded from 1895.
- Algonquian people, translating French renards, which itself may be a translation of an Iroquoian term meaning "red fox people." Their name for themselves is /meškwahki:-haki/ "red earths." French renard "fox" is from Reginhard, the name of the fox in old Northern European fables (cf. Low German Reinke de Vos), originally "strong in council, wily."
- fox (v.)
- 1560s (but perhaps implied in Old English foxung "foxlike wile, craftiness"), from fox (n.). Foxed in booksellers' catalogues means "stained with fox-colored marks." In other contexts, it typically meant "drunk" (1610s).