To mandate an action is to order it, or to officially require it, usually by means of authority.

What word could be used to describe ordering that an action not be taken?

For instance, if it is not important to an authoritative body whether a particular action is (or is not) taken, one could say:

It is not this body's responsibility to mandate or ______ such action.

I've seen countermand offered as a suggestion, but this seems to have the connotation of revoking or contradicting an earlier order.

  • For a verb antonym of mandate, you might use disapprove, prohibit, forbid. or proscribe. For the opposite of the noun mandate, as in a mandate to pursue a particular policy, "vote of no confidence" might work. – Sven Yargs Oct 1 '14 at 23:45

Veto is not a word connoting original action. Like countermand, implies that a previous order is stopped or reversed.

For a verb of equal strength as mandate, prohibit is apt. Mandate means to command some action, prohibit means to command to refrain from some action.

Mandate (verb) and mandate (noun) are words often used in the US Armed Forces and in American law. There is an implication of punishment if the person commanded acts contrary to the mandate. Words to command to refrain from some action, used in the same sense in the military and in law, are prohibit (verb) and prohibition (noun). The word proscribe is also correct for a sense of commanding not to act. Proscribe is used less often, probably because when spoken, it sounds very close to its antonym, prescribe.

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  • OP is not asking an original action. Though even it is an original action, it can be proposed and vetoed. Veto is perfectly fine as an antonym. – 0.. Oct 2 '14 at 0:32
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    He is asking for an original action. His question has a clause doubting the sense of contradiction implied by "countermand". The opposite of "veto" is "ratify". Both presuppose some other action first. – Theresa Oct 2 '14 at 0:48
  • Where is he saying "an original action"? A proposed action can be vetoed. A proposed action can be an original action. You don't have to mix up the terms and start your answer by eliminating other answers given. Yes "prohibiting" is a great answer also and you can just emphasize that. – 0.. Oct 2 '14 at 0:53
  • @ermanen No action has been proposed. The example sentence given responds to a proposal regarding whether an action should be actively required or actively prohibited. – Tim Parenti Oct 2 '14 at 14:47
  • @TimParenti: I don't say it can be only used for "proposed action". It can be used for "intended actions" too. Veto is really an antonym of mandate. I explained in detail. – 0.. Oct 2 '14 at 16:09

The opposite of the verb mandate is enjoin

(enjoin someone from) Law: Prohibit someone from performing (a particular action) by issuing an injunction.

[Oxford Dictionaries Online]

As the definition cited above indicates, the associated noun is injunction.

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    Enjoin can mean also to command, same as mandate. In the law, an injunction can be a court order to take action or to refrain from taking action. It is one of those self-antonyms, like "sanction". – Theresa Oct 2 '14 at 2:05
  • @Theresa So true. But when used as a verb as opposed to noun, to enjoin usually means to stop rather than compel, as in enjoin someone from doing something. – bib Oct 2 '14 at 2:08
  • @Erik, My idea of frequency of use is skewed: I am a lawyer and the daughter of the Sergeant Major. I've been the "mandatee" for most of my life. – Theresa Oct 2 '14 at 2:23
  • I've usually seen it as enjoin to rather than enjoin from. While it is an antonym when used with from, it's certainly ambiguous. – Andrew Leach Oct 2 '14 at 6:28
  • Enjoin is a great word, but perhaps not quite the best fit here due to the fact that it's typically found with a preposition like from. – Tim Parenti Oct 2 '14 at 14:50

"I forbidded it!" -- Rajesh Kuthrapali

countermand means to reverse the effect of a previously issued mandate.

proscribe means to forbid.

anathemize means to create a serious moral stigma against.

disapprove can mean to express a dislike for, or to withhold necessary official approval

veto means to override the approval of another body

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You can impose (or apply) a moratorium:

Definition of moratorium in English:

Syllabification: mor·a·to·ri·um
Pronunciation: /ˌmôrəˈtôrēəm /
NOUN (plural moratoriums or moratoria /-ˈtôrēə/)

1 A temporary prohibition of an activity:
an indefinite moratorium on the use of drift nets


It was simply due to the fact that the British, American and Soviet governments agreed a temporary moratorium on all nuclear testing in October 1958.

In 2003 the US government put a temporary moratorium on the development of specialist hospitals that are partly owned by the doctors using them.

A temporary moratorium on new computers has been imposed by the service.

1.1 Law A legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment.


For Germany, the economic and financial crisis led US President Hoover to announce on 21 June 1931 a one-year moratorium for reparation payments.

There's nothing inconsistent with the Government now saying there should be a moratorium and a payment of the lower amount.

The downside of a moratorium is that when it is lifted, payments are bunched up and the cost of borrowing could rise, meaning countries will find it even harder reduce their debt.

(Definitions and examples from Oxforddictionaries.com)

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    Imposing a moratorium seems to imply that there is some continuing action to be stopped. This is not the case. – Tim Parenti Oct 2 '14 at 14:48

Because mandate stops at command and not command to do, mandate is a poor choice for asking for an effectively understood antonym in the context presented. Indeed, it can be an implied "do this", but the definition stops with authoritative and command.

What does that mean?

It means mandate is more synonymous with order or command than with ratification. One can mandate that an action occurs just as authoritatively as mandate that an action is prohibited. That's exactly how mandate is used.

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Veto would be the verb that you are looking for.

tr.v. To forbid or prohibit authoritatively.


Veto, as a noun, is the power to prevent or stop an official action or legislation. For example, an action can be proposed and mandated or it can be proposed and vetoed. Vetoing emphasizes an authoritative prohibition. Similarly, interdict has this sense and it is used both in ecclesiastical and legal contexts as well.

You can also consider rescind, if you are officially ending or cancelling. (Synonyms: revoke, repeal, annul)

Addition from SrJoven:

The veto is not simply saying "I reject this!" It's actually saying "I am issuing my authority to prohibit the action from occurring." This actually makes more sense this way, especially in light of what it effectively does. Authoritatively prohibit. A mandate is an authoritative command to do something. A veto is considered "You aren't authorized to do this."

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  • I might go along with this. I wouldn't think about it in prohibitive terms if it was said to me. (I'd think of veto more of reject/deny than to prohibit, if it was told to me). This is interesting, though. The veto is not simply saying "I reject this!" It's actually saying "I am issuing my authority to prohibit the action from occurring." This actually makes more sense this way, especially in light of what it effectively does. Authoritatively prohibit. A mandate is an authoritative command to do something. A veto is considered "You aren't authorized to do this." – SrJoven Oct 2 '14 at 2:36
  • @SrJoven: Finally, someone understands me. Thanks for helping to clarify what I mean. – 0.. Oct 2 '14 at 2:48
  • The action is neither an official one nor is it legislation. While veto has legislative connotations which would go better with a verb indicating official approval, like ratify, I think interdict mostly avoids this problem. – Tim Parenti Oct 2 '14 at 14:39
  • @TimParenti: Veto can be used in non-legal context too. For example, Parents can veto an action of their children. – 0.. Oct 2 '14 at 16:08
  • @ermanen Yes, but a parent vetoing a child's action seems more opposite to a parent approving of such an action, rather than mandating it. – Tim Parenti Oct 2 '14 at 19:29

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