The dictionaries don't agree on whether savvy comes from French or Spanish, via creole/pidgin. Is it known which language is the origin and where the word specifically first entered English?
The word is currently recorded as a noun, adjective, and verb in my copy of the OED. It seems the noun is the oldest form.
Full credit to EtymOnline for this one:
savvy (n.) 1785, "practical sense, intelligence;" also a verb, "to know, to understand;" West Indies pidgin borrowing of French savez(-vous)? "do you know?" or Spanish sabe (usted) "you know," both from Vulgar Latin *sapere, from Latin sapere "be wise, be knowing" (see sapient). The adjective is first recorded 1905, from the noun. Related: Savvily; savviness.
According to The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. it is from Spanish, modern use is influenced by French:
- [fr West Indian pidgin fr Spanish sabe usted, ''do you know?''; modern use influenced by French savez, ''you know'']