Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An official in a medieval noble household in charge of domestic arrangements and the administration of servants; a steward or major-domo.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A steward in charge of a medieval nobleman's estate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An officer in the houses of princes and dignitaries, in the Middle Ages, who had the superintendence of feasts and domestic ceremonies; a steward. Sometimes the seneschal had the dispensing of justice, and was given high military commands.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Formerly, an officer in the household of a prince or dignitary, who had the superintendence of domestic ceremonies and feasts; a majordomo; a steward.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the chief steward or butler of a great household

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English seneschal (recorded in English since 1393), from Old French seneschal, from Medieval Latin (Frankish) siniscalcus, from Proto-Germanic *sini- (“senior”) + Proto-Germanic *skalk (“servant”); latter term as in marshal. Compare French sénéchal. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But, lobsters and lollipops! it is a good thing the seneschal was a pompous fool.

    Prince Caspian

  • Edward VI notwithstanding, and that the holding of wardmotes in the borough would materially interfere with the duties of an ancient officer known as a seneschal or steward of Southwark, the petition could not be complied with, except by application to the legislature, and that such a course would neither be expedient or advisable.

    London and the Kingdom - Volume I

  • He was ushered by Benoit, the elderly body-servant, rather grandiloquently called the seneschal, into the ground-floor room known traditionally as the library.

    Scaramouche

  • Wherefore, letting call the seneschal, he was fain to know at what point things stood all and after discreetly ordained that which he judged would be well and would content the company for such time as his seignory should endure.

    The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio

  • Much was the debate between the ladies and the young men; but ultimately they all took the king's counsel for useful and seemly and determined to do as he proposed; whereupon, calling the seneschal, he bespoke him of the manner which he should hold on the ensuing morning and after, having dismissed the company until supper-time, he rose to his feet.

    The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio

  • Lauretta, become queen, let call the seneschal and bade him look that the tables be set in the pleasant valley somewhat earlier than of wont, so they might return to the palace at their leisure; after which she instructed him what he should do what while her sovranty lasted.

    The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio

  • Fiammetta sang, which done, they conversed of the Ladies 'Vale, waxing eloquent in praise thereof: insomuch that the king called the seneschal, and bade him have some beds made ready and carried thither on the morrow, that any that were so minded might there take their siesta.

    The Decameron, Volume II

  • Whereupon the queen called the seneschal and asked him who bawled so loud, and what was the occasion of the uproar.

    The Decameron, Volume II

  • There was a knock on the door, and Elspeth joined Darkwind as Tremane's aide-now styled his "seneschal," though he still acted and probably thought of himself as a military aide-de-camp-entered diffidently.

    Storm Breaking

  • They have raised concern at the power that continues to be wielded by unelected officials, including the island's judge, the "seneschal".

    The Guardian World News

Comments

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  • On September 14, 1307, the king sent sealed messages to all the bailiffs and seneschals of the realm, ordering the mass arrest of the Templars and the confiscation of their property.
    --Umberto Eco, 1988, Foucault's Pendulum, p. 97

    September 29, 2008