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late 14c., "steward, majordomo, officer in a royal household in charge of ceremonies and feasts," from Old French seneschal, title of a high administrative court officer, from Frankish Latin siniscalcus, from Proto-Germanic *sini-skalk "senior servant;" first element cognate with Latin senex "old" (see senile); second element from Proto-Germanic *skalkoz "servant" (cf. Gothic skalks, Old High German scalc, Old English scealc "servant;" see second element of marshal).
in medieval and early modern France, a steward or principal administrator in a royal or noble household. As time went on, the office declined in importance and was often equivalent to that of a bailiff (q.v.); the office and title persisted until the French Revolution.