late 14c., "act of referring to a third party for judgment or decision," from Old French submission or directly from Latin submissionem (nominative submissio) "a lowering, letting down; sinking," noun of action from past participle stem of submittere "to let down, put down, lower, reduce, yield" (see submit).
Sense of "humble obedience" is first recorded mid-15c. Modern French submission has been replaced by doublet soumission. English in 16c.-17c. also had an adjective submiss "humble, submissive." Submissionist in various political historical contexts is from 1828.