Insel's memory thread and bel's "words I had to look up" thread reminded me of the list of vocabulary words I compiled while reading Proust. Here's one of them:

ukase, n. A Russian edict or order, esp. during the Czarist regimes, having the force of law; any decree or order issued by an authority or official.
(from Webster's)

Here is an excerpt from Proust with the word in context:

My mother was counting greatly upon the pineapple and truffle salad. But the Ambassador, after fastening for a moment on the confection the penetrating gaze of a trained observer, ate it with the inscrutable discretion of a diplomat, without disclosing his opinion. My mother insisted on his taking some more, which he did, but saying only, in place of the compliment for which she was hoping: 'I obey, Madame, for I can see that it is, on your part, a positive ukase.'

from In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
my ed. published by The Folio Society 2001