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over- +‎ lord


  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈəʊvə(ɹ)lɔː(ɹ)d/
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  • (verb) IPA(key): /ˌəʊvə(ɹ)ˈlɔː(ɹ)d/
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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.
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, London: Rider/Hutchinson & Co., page 195:
      The leader is the man who knows the way of the overlords but identifies with the life of the oppressed.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect, Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Krogan: Krogan Rebellions Codex entry:
      Warlords leveraged their veteran soldiers to seize living space while the Council races were still grateful. Over centuries, the krogan conquered world after world. There was always "just one more" needed. When the Council finally demanded withdrawal from the asari colony of Lusia, krogan Overlord Kredak stormed off the Citadel, daring the Council to take their worlds back.
  2. (historical) A feudal lord directly owed rent or personal service by a tenant of subinfeudated land, a tenant's liege lord.
    The tenant owed a variety of obligations to his overlord—usually including military service or serjeanty—but these were gradually converted into monetary rents.
  3. (typically derogatory) 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.
    • 1994 February 24, David Mirkin, “Deep Space Homer”, in The Simpsons[1], season 5, episode 15, spoken by Kent Brockman:
      One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.
    • 2009, Charles Stross, The Jennifer Morgue[2], 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."
    • 2023 February 23, Michael Levenson, quoting Sheila Williams, “Science Fiction Magazines Battle a Flood of Chatbot-Generated Stories”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      “It’s not like young authors need to worry about being supplanted now,” Ms. Williams said. “It’s a worry. But it’s got a ways to go, at least. They haven’t become our overlords yet.”




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overlord (third-person singular simple present overlords, present participle overlording, simple past and past participle overlorded)

  1. To rule over; to domineer.