also marquess, c. 1300, marchis, title of nobility, from Old French marchis, marcheis, marquis, etymologically "a prefect of the marches, ruler of a border area," from Old French marche "frontier," from Medieval Latin marca "frontier, frontier territory" (see march (n.1)). Originally the ruler of border territories in various European regions (compare Italian marchese, Spanish marqués, and see margrave); later a mere title of rank, below duke and above earl or count. Related: Marquisate.
"wife or widow of a marquis," late 16c., from Medieval Latin marchionissa, fem. of marchio "marquis," from marca (see marquis (n.)).
1680s, "large tent of unusual elaborateness," from French marquise (mistaken in English as a plural) "linen canopy placed over an officer's tent to distinguish it from others,' " fem. of marquis (see marquis), and perhaps indicating "a place suitable for a marquis."
By 1812 the English word was used of large wooden structures erected for a temporary purpose (a concert, dinner party, etc.). The extended sense of "canopy over the entrance to a hotel or theater, etc." is recorded by 1912 in American English.
German title equivalent to count or earl, originally (from the time of Charlemagne) "military governor of a border province," but the office soon became hereditary in the Holy Roman Empire, 1550s, from Middle Dutch marcgrave (Dutch markgraaf), literally "count of the border," from Old High German marcgravo; second element from graf "count, earl" (Old High German gravo, gravjo), according to Boutkan a designation of rank that developed in Franconian, probably based on Medieval Latin -gravius, from Greek grapheus "scribe." For first element see mark (n.1). Equivalent of marquis. His wife was a margravine.
It forms all or part of: Cymric; demarcation; Denmark; emarginate; landmark; march (v.) "walk with regular tread;" march (n.2) "boundary;" marchioness; margin; margrave; mark (n.1) "trace, impression;" mark (n.2) "unit of money or weight;" marque; marquee; marquetry; marquis; remark; remarkable.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin margo "margin;" Avestan mareza- "border;" Old Irish mruig, Irish bruig "borderland," Welsh bro "district;" Old English mearc "boundary, sign, limit, mark," Gothic marka "boundary, frontier."
"trace, impression," Old English mearc (West Saxon), merc (Mercian) "boundary, limit; sign, landmark," from Proto-Germanic *markō (source also of Old Norse merki "boundary, sign," mörk "forest," which often marked a frontier; Old Frisian merke, Gothic marka "boundary, frontier," Dutch merk "mark, brand," German Mark "boundary, boundary land"), from PIE root *merg- "boundary, border." Influenced by, and partly from, Scandinavian cognates. The Germanic word was borrowed widely and early in Romanic (compare marque; march (n.2), marquis).
The primary sense "boundary" had evolved by Old English through "pillar, post, etc. as a sign of a boundary," through "a sign in general," then to "impression or trace forming a sign." Meaning "any visible trace or impression" is recorded by c. 1200. Meaning "a cross or other character made by an illiterate person as a signature" is from late Old English. Sense of "line drawn to indicate the starting point of a race" (as in on your marks..., which is by 1890) is attested by 1887.
The Middle English sense of "target" (c. 1200) is the notion in marksman and slang sense "victim of a swindle" (1883). The notion of "sign, token" is behind the meaning "a characteristic property, a distinctive feature" (1520s), also that of "numerical award given by a teacher" (by 1829). To make (one's) mark "attain distinction" is by 1847.
In medieval England and in Germany, "a tract of land held in common by a community," hence Mark of Brandenburg, etc.