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Marquee player.

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celticminded | 12:00 Mon 16th Feb 2009 | Word Origins
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This seems to me to be a recent addition to our sporting lexicon.

It seems to mean 'a football player who is top-class, and, if signed for our team, will put bums on seats.'

I have a feeling, however, that it is a mis-interpretation of the French word 'marque.'

Anyone shed any light on this?

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It's American. In America, the 'marquee' isn't a tent for use at parties, but an awning or projection out which gives cover and serves as part of an entrance lobby to a cinema.The stars of the film have their names in big letters, often above the title, on the marquee. So a 'marquee name' is a big star, a main attraction and 'marquee' itself has come to be an adjective meaning 'famous, like a star'.

Nice to think that it's related to French 'marque', a 'brand', but it isn't, even though Beckham is known as 'brand Beckham' and is a 'marquee' name (or player)

French 'marque' is a back-formation from 'marquer' to brand. Marquee was originally 'marquise' and the name for a permanent canopy projecting in front of a hotel or theatre etc. Somebody here misunderstood 'marquise' as 'marquees', the plural of a word 'marquee' and 'marquee' was created (or so the OED's editors think)
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Excellent answer, fred, and enlightening. Thank you.

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