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overlord definition


This page has 4 definitions of overlord in English. Overlord is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use overlord in a sentence are shown. Also define these 11 related words and terms: ruler, feudal, manor, subinfeudate, tenant, overarch, power, authority, domain, rule, and domineer.



over- +‎ lord


  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈəʊvə(ɹ)lɔː(ɹ)d/
  • (file)
  • (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.
  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.
    • Feudal definition
      Of, or relating to feudalism.
    • Tenant definition
      One who pays a fee (rent) in return for the use of land, buildings, or other property owned by others. (1 of 4 tenant definitions)
  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.
    • 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, 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."
    • Overarch definition
      To form an arch over something.

Usage notes

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

Derived terms

Related terms



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

  1. To rule over; to domineer.
    • Domineer definition
      To rule over or control arbitrarily or arrogantly; to tyrannize.