govern

verb

gov·​ern ˈgə-vərn How to pronounce govern (audio)
governed; governing; governs

transitive verb

1
a
: to exercise continuous sovereign authority over
especially : to control and direct the making and administration of policy in
The country was governed by a king.
b
: to rule without sovereign power and usually without having the authority to determine basic policy
2
a
archaic : manipulate
b
: to control the speed of (a machine) especially by automatic means
3
a
: to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct of
b
: to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over
income must govern expenditure
c
: to hold in check : restrain
was told to govern her emotions
4
: to require (a word) to be in a certain case
5
: to serve as a precedent or deciding principle for
customs that govern human decisions

intransitive verb

1
: to prevail or have decisive influence : control
In all situations allow reason to govern.
2
: to exercise authority
governable adjective

Examples of govern in a Sentence

The tribe is governed by a 10-member council. They want to form their own country and govern themselves. The scandal limited her ability to govern effectively. How would he govern if he were elected president? She suggested changing the state's laws governing the sale of alcohol. The council governs fishing in the region. We will be studying the forces that govern the Earth's climate. Tradition governs all aspects of their lives. He allows himself to be governed by his emotions.
Recent Examples on the Web The governing Conservative Party is historically supportive of Israel, but the killing of British citizens has shifted the domestic debate. Luke McGee, CNN, 5 Apr. 2024 This doctrine provided the basis for a national immigration system, which has governed who can enter the U.S. over the last 135 years. TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 New York’s cannabis industry was unsettled Thursday by a judge’s ruling that appeared to strike down all regulations governing recreational marijuana in the state. Philip Marcelo, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2024 Most have protocols that staffers are told to follow, which may include abiding by curfews and governing how to travel. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2024 Recommended An honest hearing in Gibraltar The paradox is that people already offer up enormous amounts of personal data to Google, Facebook, and other companies that are not only foreign but also governed independently, Mr. Viik says. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Apr. 2024 Arriving in Tahiti, where British and French sailors had already infected many of the women with syphilis, Cook drew up rules to govern his crew’s dealings with the island’s inhabitants. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024 At that school, the issue was raised by Audrey Lieberstein, a parent leader in the PTA and the school’s governing councils, who provided school budget documents and copies of correspondence with L.A. Unified to The Times. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2024 That’s out of the 42 school districts and more than 120 charter schools in the county, not including a few dependent charter schools that are governed by their district’s board. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'govern.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French governer, from Latin gubernare to steer, govern, from Greek kybernan

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of govern was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near govern

Cite this Entry

“Govern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/govern. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

govern

verb
gov·​ern ˈgəv-ərn How to pronounce govern (audio)
1
: to exercise authority over : rule
the queen governed wisely
2
: to control the speed of by automatic means
3
a
: to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct of
governed by his emotions
b
: to hold in check : restrain
our income governs our spending
4
: to require a word to be in a certain case or mood
in English a transitive verb governs a pronoun in the objective case
5
: to serve as a rule or law for
etiquette governing their behavior
governable adjective

Legal Definition

govern

transitive verb
gov·​ern ˈgə-vərn How to pronounce govern (audio)
1
: to exercise continuous sovereign authority over
especially : to control and direct the administration of policy in
2
: to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over
the testator's assets are governed by will substitutesW. M. McGovern, Jr. et al.
3
: to serve as a precedent or deciding principle for
the law governing bills of lading
United States v. Leon governs the case at bar
governable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on govern

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