late 14c., from Old French inquisitif, from Late Latin inquisitivus "making inquiry," from Latin inquisit-, past participle stem of inquirere "seek after, search for; examine, investigate" (see inquire).
An housbonde shal nat been Inquisityf of goddes pryuetee nor of his wyf. [Chaucer, "Miller's Prologue"]
Related: Inquisitively; inquisitiveness.
mid-14c., "subtle, sophisticated;" late 14c., "eager to know, inquisitive, desirous of seeing" (often in a bad sense), also "wrought with or requiring care and art;" from Old French curios "solicitous, anxious, inquisitive; odd, strange" (Modern French curieux) and directly from Latin curiosus "careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome," akin to cura "care" (see cure (n.)).
The objective sense of "exciting curiosity" is by 1715 in English. In booksellers' catalogues, the word was a euphemism for "erotic, pornographic" (1877); such material was called curiosa (1883), the Latin neuter plural of curiosus. Related: Curiously; curiousness. Curiouser and curiouser is from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865).
Curious and inquisitive may be used in a good or a bad sense, but inquisitive is more often, and prying is only, found in the latter. Curious expresses only the desire to know; inquisitive, the effort to find out by inquiry; prying, the effort to find out secrets by looking and working in improper ways. [Century Dictionary]
also m.y.o.b., by 1846, American English slang, an abbreviation of mind your own business. Often in M.Y.O.B. Society, an imaginary organization which a too-inquisitive person would be invited to join.
"look inquisitively, look closely or with scrutinizing curiosity," c. 1300, prien "to peer in," a word of unknown origin, perhaps related to late Old English bepriwan "to wink." Related: Pried; prying. As a noun, "act of prying, curious or close inspection," from 1750; meaning "inquisitive, intrusive person" is from 1845.
masc. proper name, the Biblical name of the apostle to the Gentiles, from Latin Paulum (nominative Paulus), a Roman surname of the Aemilian gens, literally "small," from PIE *pau-ro-lo-, suffixed form of root *pau- (1) "few, little." Other forms include Old French Pol, Italian Paolo, Spanish Pablo, Russian Pavel. Paul Pry as a name for a very inquisitive person is by 1820. Related: Paulian; Paulite.