One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A high-ranking official or dignitary of the Byzantine imperial hierarchy.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in William Nicholls (1664–1712), theologian. From post-classical Latin protospatharius and its etymon Byzantine Greek πρωτοσπαθάριος captain of the imperial guards in Byzantium from ancient Greek πρωτο- + Byzantine Greek σπαθάριος swordsman from ancient Greek σπάθη sword + -αριος from classical Latin -ārius.
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