Word of the Day Archive
Saturday January 5, 2002
fiat \FEE-uht; -at; -aht; FY-uht; -at\ , noun:
1. An arbitrary or authoritative command or order.
2. Formal or official authorization or sanction.
He found a provision in the college constitution that said there were to be no executive committees, and arguing that those stodgy impediments to serious change had grown up only by convention and tradition; he abolished them and ruled these faculty meetings by fiat, using each as an occasion to announce what he was going to do next that was sure to stir up even more resentment.
-- Philip Roth, The Human Stain
Americans tend to squirm about the messiness of their two best-known trade agreements with Japan: the "voluntary limitations" that have restricted exports of Japanese cars to the United States since 1981, and the semiconductor agreement of 1986, which declared by fiat that foreign manufacturers should get 20 percent of semiconductor sales in Japan.
-- James Fallows, "Containing Japan", The Atlantic, May 1989
Fiat derives from Latin fiat, "let it be done," from fieri, "to be done."