Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From French suzerain, based on sus (up, above) (from Latin sursum) with the ending of souverain (whence also English sovereign).


  • IPA(key): /ˈs(j)uz(ə)ɹən/, /ˈs(j)uzəˌɹeɪ̯n/
  • Hyphenation: su‧ze‧rain, suz‧erain


suzerain (plural suzerains)

  1. (international politics) A dominant nation or state that has control over the international affairs of a subservient state which otherwise has domestic autonomy.
    • 1920–1921, L[assa Francis Lawrence] Oppenheim, Ronald F. Roxburgh, editor, International Law: A Treatise, volume I (Peace), 3rd edition, London; New York, N.Y.: Longman, Green and Co., page 162:
      Suzerainty is a term which was originally used for the relation between the feudal lord and his vassal; the lord was said to be the suzerain of the vassal, and at that time suzerainty was a term of Constitutional Law only. With the disappearance of the feudal system, suzerainty of this kind likewise disappeared. Modern suzerainty involves only a few rights of the suzerain State over the vassal State which can be called constitutional rights. The rights of the suzerain State over the vassal are principally international rights, of whatever they may consist.
    • 1911, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, volume 22, Punic Wars, page 649:
      The origin of these conflicts is to be sought in the position which Rome acquired about 275 b.c. as suzerain and protector of all Italy.
  2. (historical) A feudal landowner to whom vassals were forced to pledge allegiance.

Derived terms[edit]






suzerain m (plural suzerains)

  1. suzerain


suzerain (feminine singular suzeraine, masculine plural suzerains, feminine plural suzeraines)

  1. suzerain (attributive)

Derived terms[edit]