1 : a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law
2 a : a proclamation having the force of law
Did You Know?
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.
"On December 31, 1810, the Emperor issued a ukase lifting all restrictions on exports from Russia and on imports coming by sea, while at the same time imposing a heavy tariff on goods arriving overland, most of which came from France." — James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit, 2016
"The Department of Education has issued a ukase … on the use of exclamation marks by seven-year-olds.… Education ministers have concluded that seven-year-olds are … unhealthily addicted to exclamation points …, and have decreed that in this summer's grammar tests for primary school pupils, sentences concluding with an exclamation point may be marked correct only if they begin with How or What." — Jane Shilling, The Daily Telegraph (London), 7 Mar. 2016
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