Word of The Day for Saturday, March 19, 2011


u•kase (yoo-KAYS, -KAYZ; YOO-kays, -kayz)  n

1. an authoritative order or decree; an edict
2. a proclamation of a czar having the force of law in imperial Russia


1729; from Russian ukaz "edict," from ukazat' "to show, decree," from Old Church Slavic ukazati, from u-, intens. prefix, + kazati "to show, order," which is related to the first element of Casimir

Synonyms: command, commandment, declaration, decretum, dictum, edict, order, ordinance, precept, prescript, proclamation, promulgation, ruling, diktat

Sentence Examples:
• That official was charged with the ukase depriving Feodor of his rank, and appointing his brother Zeno to the post of frigate-captain in his place. The crew were looking on in gloomy silence, ready for any turn which events might take. "Throw both ukase and messenger into the sea!" shouted Feodor.  -The Tower of Dago, Mor Jokai

• A Russian told me that the Empress Elizabeth had done the journey in fifty-two hours. "You mean that she issued a ukase to the effect that she had done it," said a Russian of the old school; "and if she had liked she could have travelled more quickly still; it was only a question of the wording of the ukase."  -Russia and Poland, Jacques Casanova

• During the reign of Louis XIII this great and fatal truth had not yet been impressed upon the French nation, for the popular voice was stifled beneath the ukase of despotism; and even the tiers-état--important as the loyalty of that portion of a kingdom must ever be to its rulers--were treated with disdain and contumely; but beneath all the workings of his government (or rather the government of his minister, for the son of Marie de Medicis was a monarch only in name), may be traced the undercurrent of popular indignation and discontent, which, gradually swelling and rising during the two succeeding reigns, finally overthrew with its giant waves the last frail barrier which still upreared itself before a time-honoured throne. -The Life of Marie de Medicis, Julia Pardoe

Why This Word:

A ukase, in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader (patriarch) that had the force of law. Adequate translations are "edict" or "decree" of Roman law.  After the Russian Revolution, a government proclamation of wide meaning was called a "decree"; more specific proclamations were called ukaz. Both terms are usually translated as "decree". According to the Russian Federation's 1993 constitution, a ukaz is a Presidential decree. Such ukazes have the power of laws, but may not alter the regulations of existing laws, and may be superseded by laws passed by the Federal Assembly.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology, Wikipedia

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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