verbal phrase, early 16c., altered by folk etymology from curry favel (c. 1400) from Old French correier fauvel "to be false, hypocritical," literally "to curry the chestnut horse," which in medieval French allegories was a symbol of cunning and deceit. For the verb, see curry (v.). Old French fauvel (later fauveau) "fallow, dun," though the exact color intended in the early uses is vague, is a diminutive of fauve fawn-colored horse, dark-colored thing, dull," for which see Fauvist. The secondary sense here is entangled with similar-sounding Old French favele "lying, deception," from Latin fabella, diminutive of fabula (see fable (n.)). In Middle English, favel was a common name for a horse.
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