1550s, from French sultan "ruler of Turkey" (16c.), ultimately from Arabic (Semitic) sultan "ruler, prince, monarch, king, queen," originally "power, dominion." According to Klein's sources, this is from Aramaic shultana "power," from shelet "have power." Earlier English word was soldan, soudan (c. 1300), used indiscriminately of Muslim rulers and sovereigns, from Old French souldan, soudan, from Medieval Latin sultanus. Related: Sultanic.
word-forming element used in forming nouns from Latin words ending in -atus, -atum (such as estate, primate, senate). Those that came to English via French often arrived with -at, but an -e was added after c. 1400 to indicate the long vowel. The suffix also can mark adjectives formed from Latin past participles in -atus, -ata (such as desolate, moderate, separate); again, they often were adopted in Middle English as -at, with an -e appended after c. 1400.