fawn


fawn
Fawn ‘young deer’ [14] and fawn ‘grovel’ [13] are two distinct words. The latter did not always have the negative associations of ‘servility’ which it usually carries today. Originally it simply referred to dogs showing they were happy – by wagging their tails, for instance. It was a derivative of Old English fægen ‘happy’, an adjective of Germanic origin which survives in the archaic fain ‘willingly’ (as in ‘I would fain go’). Fawn ‘young deer’ comes via Old French faon ‘young of an animal’ and Vulgar Latin *fētō from Latin fētus ‘giving birth, offspring’ (whence English foetus). The general sense ‘young of an animal’ survived into the early 17th century in English (James I’s translation of the Psalms, for instance, in 1603, has ‘the fawn of unicorns’ in Psalm 29, where the Authorized Version simply refers to ‘a young unicorn’), but on the whole ‘young of the deer’ seems to have been the main sense of the word from the 15th century onwards. Its use as a colour term, after the pale yellowish brown of a young deer’s coat, dates from the 19th century. => FAIN, FOETUS

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Synonyms:

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  • fawn — vb Fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower are comparable when they mean to act or behave with abjectness in the presence of a superior. Fawn implies a courting of favor by such acts of a sycophant as servile flattery and exaggerated deference {they… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Fawn — Fawn, n. [OF. faon the young one of any beast, a fawn, F. faon a fawn, for fedon, fr. L. fetus. See {Fetus}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A young deer; a buck or doe of the first year. See {Buck}. [1913 Webster] 2. The young of an animal; a whelp. [Obs.] [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fawn — Fawn, a. Of the color of a fawn; fawn colored. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fawn — ‘young deer’ [14] and fawn ‘grovel’ [13] are two distinct words. The latter did not always have the negative associations of ‘servility’ which it usually carries today. Originally it simply referred to dogs showing they were happy – by wagging… …   Word origins

  • fawn on — ˈfawn over ˈfawn on [transitive] [present tense I/you/we/they fawn over he/she/it fawns over present participle fawning over past tens …   Useful english dictionary

  • Fawn — Fawn, v. i. [Cf. F. faonner.] To bring forth a fawn. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fawn — Fawn, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Fawned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Fawning}.] [OE. fawnen, fainen, fagnien, to rejoice, welcome, flatter, AS. f[ae]gnian to rejoice; akin to Icel. fagna to rejoice, welcome. See {Fain}.] To court favor by low cringing, frisking …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fawn — fawn·ing·ly; fawn; fawn·ing·ness; …   English syllables

  • Fawn — Fawn, n. A servile cringe or bow; mean flattery; sycophancy. Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fawn — [n] baby deer baby buck, baby doe, yearling; concepts 394,400 fawn [v] ingratiate oneself to; serve abase, apple polish*, be at beck and call*, be obsequious, be servile, blandish, bow, brownnose*, buddy up*, butter up*, cajole, cater to, cave in …   New thesaurus