"sovereign, ruler, feudal lord or baron," 1807, suzereign, from French suzerain (14c., Old French suserain), noun use of an adjective meaning "sovereign but not supreme," from the adverb sus "up, above," on analogy of soverain (see sovereign (adj.)). Old French sus is from Vulgar Latin *susum, from Latin sursum "upward, above," a contraction of subversum, from subvertere "turn upside down, overturn, overthrow" (see subvert). The fem. form is suzeraine.
updated on September 11, 2022