overlord

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

over- +‎ lord

Noun[edit]

overlord (plural overlords)

  1. A ruler of other rulers.
    The various tribal chieftains met each spring to elect an overlord that would lead them in time of war.
  2. (historical) In the English feudal system, a lord of a manor who had subinfeudated a particular manor, estate or fee, to a tenant.
    The tenant thenceforth owed to the overlord one of a variety of services, usually military service or serjeanty, depending on which form of tenure the estate was held under.
  3. Anyone with overarching power or authority in a given domain.
    The crusty old professor was overlord of the history department, and few dared to cross his will.
    • 2009, Charles Stross, The Jennifer Morgue, page 239:
      Fluffy is wearing a diamond collar that belongs in the Tower of London with a platoon of Beefeaters standing guard over it. "I for one welcome our new feline overlords."

Usage notes[edit]

  • (one with power or authority): This sense frequently carries negative connotations, and may imply tyranny or authoritarianism.

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