1530s, "head domestic, master or superintendent of the table in a mansion," from French maître d'hôtel, literally "house-master," from Old French maistre "master; skilled worker, educator" (12c.), from Latin magistrum (see magistrate). Sense of "hotel manager, manager of a dining room" is from 1890. Shortened form maître d' is attested from 1942; simple maitre in this sense is from 1899.
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Definitions of maitre d' from WordNet
maitre d' (n.)
a dining-room attendant who is in charge of the waiters and the seating of customers;