Sunday, September 02, 2012

word of the day: suzerain

The word of the day is suzerain:

< French suzerain, older s(o)userain , apparently < sus above, up ( < Latin sūsum , sursum , < sub from below, up + vorsum , versum , past participle of vertĕre to turn), after souverain sovereign n. and adj. 

a. A feudal overlord. In recent use, with reference to international relations, a sovereign or a state having supremacy over another state which possesses its own ruler or government but cannot act as an independent power. (OED)

"Sudan - derived from the Arabic word for 'land of the blacks' - was a lucrative source of chattel until the British suppressed the trade; the capital, Khartoum, in the north, was built by an Egyptian suzerain as a slaver station."

 - Jon Lee Anderson, "A History of Violence", The New Yorker 23 July 2012

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