Word of the Day : August 10, 2007

maître d' or maitre d'

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noun may-truh-DEE

Definition

: maître d'hôtel, headwaiter

Did You Know?

"Maître d'" is short for "maître d'hôtel," which comes from French and literally means "master of the house." "Maître d'hôtel" was first used in English in the 16th century for a head butler or steward of a household, before it was adapted to refer to the head of a dining-room staff around the middle of the 19th century. (For the record, the plural of "maître d'hôtel" is "maîtres d'hôtel," whereas the plural of "maître d'" is "maître d's.") We began dropping the "hôtel" of "maître d'hôtel" about 50 years ago. At first, the abbreviated form was considered slang, but today "maître d'" is widely used in American English and is accepted as a standard American use.


Examples

The maître d' ushered the couple to a private table at the back of the restaurant.




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noun - something desired as essential


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