Definition of commissariat in US English:



  • 1Military
    A department for the supply of food and equipment.

    • ‘As regards the mobilization of transport vehicles, the weakest link here today is ensuring their timely delivery to the assembly points of military commissariats and especially their roadworthiness and readiness for service.’
    • ‘The direct selection of volunteers for The Reserves may be entrusted to preliminary selection centers, which should be organic divisions of military commissariats.’
    • ‘In some armies the commissariat is synonymous with quarter master, but others have divided the duty of supplying food to the troops between the two offices.’
    • ‘I also ate at the American commissariat, now a huge canteen for soldiers.’
    • ‘A streamlined system should be created in cooperation with the military commissariats and educational agencies, enabling young men liable to conscription to learn the basics of military service and up their athletic skills.’
    nourishment, sustenance, nutriment, subsistence, fare, bread, daily bread
    View synonyms
  • 2A government department of the Soviet Union before 1946.

    • ‘Their business was still overshadowed by private arrangements between individuals, and the commissariat was to hold sway in foreign exchange dealings until the 1830s.’
    • ‘Thus, after a series of reorganizations, the Soviet military industry entered the Great Patriotic War with branch commissariats whose enterprises, in the prewar period, created many new weapons for the future victory.’
    • ‘After Trotsky's departure from the war commissariat in 1925, the army was reduced to under 600,000 men, with a strong cavalry element.’
    • ‘He has made good use of other archival materials as well, including the papers of the commissariats of justice and health.’
    • ‘Then, in the mid-1930s, the People's Commissariat for the Defense Industry was established which was subsequently, under the January 11, 1939 decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, divided up into five separate commissariats.’


Late 16th century (as a Scots legal term denoting the jurisdiction of a commissary, often spelled commissariot): from French commissariat, reinforced by medieval Latin commissariatus, both from medieval Latin commissarius ‘person in charge’, from Latin committere ‘entrust’.