early 14c., "to trip up, overthrow, defeat, dispossess," from Old French suplanter, sosplanter "to trip up, overthrow, drive out, usurp," or directly from Latin supplantare "trip up, overthrow," from assimilated form of sub "under" (see sub-) + planta "sole of the foot" (see plant (n.)). Meaning "replace one thing with another" first recorded 1670s. There is a sense evolution parallel in Hebrew akabh "he beguiled," from akebh "heel."
Entries linking to supplant
In Latin assimilated to following -c-, -f-, -g-, -p-, and often -r- and -m-. In Old French the prefix appears in the full Latin form only "in learned adoptions of old Latin compounds" [OED], and in popular use it was represented by sous-, sou-; as in French souvenir from Latin subvenire, souscrire (Old French souzescrire) from subscribere, etc.
The original meaning is now obscured in many words from Latin (suggest, suspect, subject, etc.). The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c. 1800, as in subcontinent).
Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted, a shoot or strip recently sprouted from seed," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), which is perhaps from an unattested verb *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," or perhaps "to level the earth," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread." German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant also are from Latin.
Broader sense of "any small vegetable life, vegetation generally" (sometimes popularly excluding trees), "an individual living being with material organization but not animal in nature" is recorded by 1550s.
Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" such as "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the machinery, tools, apparatus, etc., later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word.
also *pletə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to spread;" extension of root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."
It forms all or part of: clan; flan; flat (adj.) "without curvature or projection;" flat (n.) "a story of a house;" flatter (v.); flounder (n.) "flatfish;" implant; piazza; place; plaice; plane; (n.4) type of tree; plant; plantain (n.2); plantar; plantation; plantigrade; plat; plate; plateau; platen; platform; platinum; platitude; Platonic; Plattdeutsch; platter; platypus; plaza; supplant; transplant.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit prathati "spreads out;" Hittite palhi "broad;" Greek platys "broad, flat;" Latin planta "sole of the foot;" Lithuanian platus "broad;" German Fladen "flat cake;" Old Norse flatr "flat;" Old English flet "floor, dwelling;" Old Irish lethan "broad."