General English

  • noun an Indian food prepared with spices


  • A stew with a pungent aromatic sauce made by browning onion in ghee, separating, adding meat which has been defatted and degristled to the fat, searing this, adding aromatics and frying over medium heat until the fat separates, then adding salt, water and chillies or sweet peppers, simmering for a long period adding water as necessary and finally adding onions and other vegetables towards the end.
  • masculine A general term for highly spiced cooked dishes of meat, vegetables, fish, pulses, etc. originating from India and Southeast Asia, popular in the West, often containing varying proportions of hot chillies

Origin & History of “curry”

Of the two English words curry, the older, ‘groom a horse’ (13th c.), is now almost forgotten except in the compound currycomb and the phrase curry favour. It comes, via Old French correier, from vulgar Latin *conrēdāre ‘arrange, prepare, get ready’, which seems to have been an adaptation and partial translation of a prehistoric Germanic verb *garǣthjan, a derivative of the base which produced English ready. The expression curry favour is a partial translation of Old French estriller favel or torcher favel, literally ‘groom a chestnut horse’, which, for reasons that are not known, was used as a metaphor for hypocritical behaviour; the word favel, unfamiliar to English speakers, was replaced with the semantically appropriate favour.

Curry ‘spiced dish’ (16th c.) was borrowed from Tamil kari ‘sauce’.