Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
late 12c., from Anglo-French buteillier "cup-bearer," from Old French boteillier "cup-bearer, butler, officer in charge of wine," from boteille "wine vessel, bottle" (see bottle (n.)). The word reflects the position's original function as "chief servant in charge of wine." In Old French, fem. boteilliere was used of the Virgin Mary as "dispenser" of the cup of Mercy.
properly a servant in charge of the wine (Gen. 40:1-13; 41:9). The Hebrew word, _mashkeh_, thus translated is rendered also (plural) "cup-bearers" (1 Kings 10:5; 2 Chr. 9:4). Nehemiah (1:11) was cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes. It was a position of great responsibility and honour in royal households.
chief male servant of a household who supervises other employees, receives guests, directs the serving of meals, and performs various personal services. The title originally applied to the person who had charge of the wine cellar and dispensed liquors, the name being derived from Middle English boteler (and various other forms), from Old French bouteillier, "bottle bearer." In the European Middle Ages it meant precisely this, but in time it came to mean an official of the crown, who nominally had charge of the wine but who in fact was a person of high rank, having different duties in different countries at different times.