Word Confusion: Marquee versus Marquis

Posted September 26, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 21 September 2017

Another word confusion that does not appear very often. In truth, it’s more likely for marquis to be confused with respect to its usage and titling in someone’s historical romance. Those of you who enjoy early and mid-twentieth century English mysteries will recognize marquee from the references to it when the county is enjoying a major event on someone’s grounds in those novels.

You may also want to explore “Mark versus Marque“.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Marquee Marquis
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster; Dictionary.com: marquee

movie marquee lit up at night

“The NORMAL Theater Film Center” is by Ronald (Ron) Douglas Frazier under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt

A brightly lit movie marquee.

“Marquis de Lafayette” by Joseph-Désiré Court is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Noun 2
Plural: marquees
Plural: marquis, marquises

Alternative spelling: marquess
Plural: marquesses

Feminine version: marquise
Plural: marquises

  • Preeminent


  • Headlining

Roof-like projection over the entrance to a theater, hotel, or other building

A sign over the entrance to a theater that shows the name of the show, movie, play, etc. and the names of the main performers

[Chiefly British] A large tent with open sides, especially one for temporary use in outdoor entertainments, receptions, or commercial functions

[Mainly U.S. & Canadian slang; modifier] Celebrated or pre-eminent

[Slang] Famous and influential

  • Star
  • Stellar
[In some European countries] A nobleman ranking above a count and below a duke
He’s a marquee baseball player.

Did anyone catch what movie was up on the marquee?

With this many guests, we’ll need a marquee.

She dreamed of seeing her name up on the marquee.

That Pasolini was offered these public forums suggests that there was a certain marquee value attached to his name.

The Marquis de Sade has quite the reputation.

The Marquis de Lafayette was one of the Frenchmen who joined in the American Revolution.

History of the Word:
1 An allusion to the practice of billing the name of an entertainer on the marquee, i.e., awning, over the entrance to a theater

2 1690 from marquise is taken as plural and assimilated to -ee

Middle English from the Old French marchis and reinforced by the Old French marquis

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Lafayette Stamp of the marquis was uploaded by User:File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske) and is in the public domain. Grey Gardens at the Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City, 2006, is by Michael J. Owens under the CC BY 2.0 license. Both are via Wikimedia Commons.

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