late 14c., "careful attention to detail" (a sense now obsolete); also "skilled workmanship;" also "desire to know or learn, inquisitiveness" (in Middle English usually in bad senses: "prying; idle or vain interest in worldly affairs; sophistry; fastidiousness"); from Old French curiosete "curiosity, avidity, choosiness" (Modern French curiosité), from Latin curiositatem (nominative curiositas) "desire of knowledge, inquisitiveness," from curiosus "careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome," akin to cura "care" (see cure (n.)).
Neutral or good sense "desire to see or learn what is strange or unknown" is from early 17c. Meaning "an object of interest, something rare or strange" is from 1640s. Curiosity-shop is from 1818.
updated on June 07, 2018