Middle English faunen, from Old English fagnian "rejoice, be glad, exult, applaud," from fægen "glad" (see fain); used in Middle English to refer to expressions of delight, especially a dog wagging its tail (early 14c.), hence "court favor, grovel, act slavishly" (early 15c.). Related: Fawned; fawning.
"cringing, servile," mid-14c., present-participle adjective from fawn (v.). Related: Fawningly.
Old English fægen, fagen "glad, cheerful, happy, joyful, rejoicing," from a common Germanic root (cognates: Old Saxon fagan, Old Norse feginn "glad," Old High German faginon, Gothic faginon "to rejoice"), perhaps from PIE *pek- (1) "to make pretty." Often it means "glad" in a relative sense, "content to accept when something better is unobtainable." As an adverb, from c. 1200. Related: Fainly. Compare fawn (v.).
late 14c., from Old French ellebore, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros, the name given to various plants of both poisonous and medicinal qualities, reputed to cure madness; of uncertain origin. Perhaps literally "plant eaten by fawns," from Greek ellos/hellos "fawn" (from PIE *elno-, extended form of *el- (2) "red, brown," in animal and tree names; see elk) + bora "food of beasts," from bibroskein "to eat" (from PIE root *gwora- "food, devouring"). But Beekes writes, "The traditional etymology seems very doubtful; the word could well be non-IE, i.e. Pre-Greek." Related: Helleboric; helleboraceous.
movement in painting associated with Henri Matisse, 1915, from French fauve, "wild beast," a term applied in contempt to these painters by French art critic Louis Vauxcelles at Autumn Salon of 1905. The movement was a reaction against impressionism, featuring vivid use of colors. French fauve (12c.) in Old French meant "fawn-colored horse, dark-colored thing, dull," and is from Frankish *falw- or some other Germanic source, cognate with German falb "dun, pale yellowish-brown" and English fallow "brownish-yellow," from PIE root *pel- (1) "pale." Related: Fauvism (1912).
"servile or insincere praise," late 14c., from Old French adulacion, from Latin adulationem (nominative adulatio) "a fawning; flattery, cringing courtesy," noun of action from past-participle stem of adulari "to flatter, fawn upon."
This is usually said to be from ad "to" (see ad-) + a stem meaning "tail," from a PIE *ul- "the tail" (source also of Sanskrit valah "tail-hair," and Lithuanian valai "horse's tail"). The original notion would be "to wag the tail" like a fawning dog (compare Greek sainein "to wag the tail," also "to flatter;" also see wheedle).
But de Vaan finds phonetic problems with these and concludes the etymology is uncertain, though he proposes a connection with avidus "eager," via *adulo- "who is eager toward something," hence "a flatterer." Adulation may proceed from true blind worship or be insincere, from hope of advantage.