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.
"steward," Middle English reve, refe, reive, rive, from Old English gerefa "king's officer," an Anglo-Saxon official of high rank, having local jurisdiction under a king, usually charged with administration of the affairs of a town or district. A word of unknown origin and with no known cognates, it is not considered to be connected to German Graf (see margrave). Compare sheriff. In Middle English also of manorial managers (c. 1300), an agent or steward of God (late 14c.). The mid-15c. "Life of St. Norbert" calls the Devil a wikkid reue. Related: Reeveship.
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.