ultra vires

adverb or adjective

ul·​tra vi·​res ˌəl-trə-ˈvī-(ˌ)rēz How to pronounce ultra vires (audio)
: beyond the scope or in excess of legal power or authority

Examples of ultra vires in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These are ultra vires, unenforcible, unlawful subpoenas, and that committee should never have been formed. ABC News, 5 June 2022 The Arkansas Supreme Court said a lawsuit against a state official for injunctive relief can overcome sovereign immunity if the suit adequately pleads the official acted illegally, unconstitutionally, or ultra vires. Stephen Simpson, Arkansas Online, 14 Apr. 2022 Courts have struck down USCIS’s interpretations and guidance as ultra vires to Congressional intent and have blocked efforts to enshrine these policies in regulation. . . . Stuart Anderson, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 An ultra vires act is one taken beyond an entity's legal authority. Lara Farrar, Arkansas Online, 25 Nov. 2021 Moreover, the Executive Order exceeds the President’s authority and is therefore ultra vires and void ab initio. Eriq Gardner, Billboard, 4 Sep. 2020 That strikes me as ultra vires; liberals can’t stir more poison into the pot. The Economist, 4 Dec. 2019 So these regulations are ultra vires and the courts should strike them down. WSJ, 11 Apr. 2018 The idea here is that if a corporation is behaving in a fashion that is deemed ultra vires, or exceeding its legal authority, the state must investigate. Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Magazine, 15 Feb. 2017 See More

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

Word History


New Latin, literally, beyond power

First Known Use

1793, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ultra vires was in 1793

Dictionary Entries Near ultra vires

Cite this Entry

“Ultra vires.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ultra%20vires. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition

ultra vires

adverb or adjective
: beyond the scope or in excess of legal power or authority (as of a corporation)
the agency acted ultra vires
the agreement was ultra vires
compare intra vires

Latin, beyond the power or means (of)

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