PARAMOUNT (Anglo-Fr. paramont, up above, par a monl, up or on top of the mountain), superior, supreme, holding the highest authority, or being of the greatest importance. The word was first used, as a term of feudal law, of the lord, the " lord paramount," who held his fief from no superior lord, and was thus opposed to " mesne lord," one who held from a superior. To those who held their fiefs from one who was not a " lord paramount " was given the correlative term " paravail," par a val, in the valley. The word was confused by English lawyers with " avail," help, assistance, profit, and apphed to the actual working tenant of the land, the lowest tenant or occupier.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)