late 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), seneshal, "steward, majordomo," formerly the principal officer in a royal household in charge of ceremonies and feasts, from Old French seneschal, senechal, title of a high administrative court officer, from Frankish Latin siniscalcus, from Proto-Germanic *sini-skalk "senior servant."
The first element is cognate with Latin senex "old" (from PIE root *sen- "old"), and was somewhat conformed to it in French; the second element from Proto-Germanic *skalkoz "servant" (source also of Gothic skalks, Old High German scalc, Old English scealc "servant." It also is the second element of marshal (q.v.). The territory he administered was a seneschalcie (early 15c.).
updated on May 03, 2022