su·​zer·​ain ˈsü-zə-rən How to pronounce suzerain (audio)
: a superior feudal lord to whom fealty is due : overlord
: a dominant state controlling the foreign relations of a vassal state but allowing it sovereign authority in its internal affairs

Examples of suzerain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Citizens of countries historically exploited by the West face higher financial and bureaucratic hurdles to access facilities and resources concentrated in their former suzerain. WIRED, 26 Aug. 2022 In buttressing Lukashenko’s regime, Russia became Belarus’s outright suzerain. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 1 Mar. 2022 Most Somalilanders have known nothing but self-rule and would never consent to reintegrate with their bloody, anarchic suzerain. The Economist, 8 May 2021 Even now, in the 21st century, some U.S. officials and elites still deep in their hearts know and understand the world through the framework of the suzerain and its colonies. Marc Tracy, New York Times, 22 Feb. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suzerain.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, from Middle French souserain, from sus up (from Latin sursum, from sub- up + versum -ward, from neuter of versus, past participle of vertere to turn) + -erain (as in soverain sovereign) — more at sub-, worth

First Known Use

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of suzerain was in 1807

Dictionary Entries Near suzerain

Cite this Entry

“Suzerain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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