Printable Version
Pronunciation: mæn-dayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An official order or commission to do or not do something. 2. The authority to carry out a course of action given by voters to elected officials.

Notes: Mandates are usually mandatory in the sense that, if not followed, legal consequences will follow. Presidential executive orders are mandates that have the force of law. Mandate may be used as a verb, as 'to mandate vaccinations'.

In Play: Mandates can confer authority: "Randy Mann was given a mandate to represent the company in negotiations with the women employees." The verb may be used in either sense; here is how it would sound in the second: "Clarence felt that he had been mandated by his constituents to vote to loosen regulations on liquor stores."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a touchup of French mandat, the French remodeling of Latin mandatum "commission, command, order". Mandatum is the neuter past participle of mandare "to deliver, consign, put in someone's hand", used as a noun. Mandare is a Latin compound verb consisting of man- "hand" + dare "to give", originally "to deliver (something) by hand". Latin received man-us "hand" from its PIE ancestor's man- "hand", and we see it underlying Latinate borrowings like manual, manipulate, and manufacture (originally "make by hand"). Latin inherited dare from PIE do- "to give", visible in the Latinate borrowings donate and data, the Latin past participle of dare, meaning "givens". Russian does the same thing: its word for "data" is dannye "givens". We find further evidence of do- in Sanskrit dadati "gives", and Greek didomi "I give, allow". In Russian this same PIE word emerged as dat' "to give", in Albanian as dashe "I gave", and in Lithuanian duoti and Latvian dot "to give".

Dr. Goodword,

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