c. 1500, "a favorite; a darling; a low dependent; one who pleases rather than benefits" [Johnson], from Middle French mignon "a favorite, darling" (n.), also a term of (probably homosexual) abuse; as an adjective, "dainty, pleasing, favorite," from Old French mignot "pretty, attractive, dainty, gracious, affectionate." The French word is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Celtic (compare Old Irish min "tender, soft"), or from Old High German minnja, minna "love, memory" (see minnesinger). Used 16c.-17c. without disparaging overtones.
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