su·​zer·​ain | \ ˈsü-zə-rən How to pronounce suzerain (audio) , -ˌrān; ˈsüz-rən \

Definition of suzerain

1 : a superior feudal lord to whom fealty is due : overlord
2 : 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 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suzerain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of suzerain

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for suzerain

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

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The first known use of suzerain was in 1807

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Cite this Entry

“Suzerain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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