yü-ˈkās How to pronounce ukase (audio)
-ˌkāz How to pronounce ukase (audio) ü-ˈkäz How to pronounce ukase (audio)
: a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law
: edict

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Ukase Has Russian Roots

English speakers adopted ukase more or less simultaneously from French (ukase) and Russian (ukaz) in the early 18th century. The word can be traced further back to the Russian verb ukazat', meaning "to show" or "to order," and its ultimate source is an ancient root that led to similar words in Latin, Sanskrit, and Old Church Slavic. A Russian ukase was a command from the highest levels of government that could not be disobeyed. But by the early 19th century, English speakers were also using ukase generally for any command that seemed to come from a higher authority, particularly one that was final or arbitrary.

Examples of ukase in a Sentence

she brazenly ignored the company's ukase about entering by the back door
Recent Examples on the Web Government by executive ukase. Christopher Demuth, WSJ, 12 Nov. 2021 The restrictions that remain from that March 2020 ukase will wind down in February, at Garcetti’s request and with the council’s vote. Patt Morrisoncolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2022 To be clear, the Pennsylvania court’s post–November 3 ballot-counting ukase has not been validated. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 3 Nov. 2020 After a brief sitting this week, under Johnson’s ukase, Parliament was not scheduled to meet again until Oct. 14, leaving him with a lot of unaccountable power. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Mercury News, 5 Sep. 2019 Trump must have felt quite confident in issuing his ukase. Garrett Epps, The Atlantic, 11 Aug. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ukase.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French & Russian; French, from Russian ukaz, from ukazat' to show, order; akin to Old Church Slavonic u- away, Latin au-, Sanskrit ava- and to Old Church Slavonic kazati to show

First Known Use

1729, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ukase was in 1729


Dictionary Entries Near ukase

Cite this Entry

“Ukase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a ruling especially of a Russian emperor or government
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