word-forming element meaning "above, over, beyond, before," from Latin supra "above, over, before, beyond, on the upper side," in supera (parte), literally "on the upper (side)," from old fem. ablative singular of superus (adj.) "above," related to super "above, over" (from PIE root *uper "over"). In English interchangeable with, but somewhat more technical than, super-. Rare as a prefix in Latin, more common in Medieval Latin, in English chiefly scientific or technical.
"of or pertaining to a nation or a country regarded as a whole; established and maintained by the nation; peculiar to the whole people of a country," 1590s, from French national (16c., from Old French nacion), and also from nation + -al (1). Opposed to local or provincial (or in the U.S., state).
Meaning "peculiar or common to the whole people of a country" is by 1620s. From 1802 as "established and maintained by the nation or its laws." As a noun, "citizen of a (particular) nation," from 1887. Related: Nationally.
National guard is from 1793, originally in reference to an armed force in France identified with the revolution; U.S. use is from 1847, originally a name sometimes given to the organized militia. National anthem is recorded by 1806.