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.
updated on November 04, 2018