govern

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

Definition of govern

transitive verb

1a : 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
2a archaic : manipulate
b : to control the speed of (a machine) especially by automatic means
3a : 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

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Other Words from govern

governable \ ˈgə-​vər-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce governable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for govern

Synonyms

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Where is the line between public and private space, and are there different rules that govern each? Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "Can a noose be art? There’s one hanging from a porch in Washington that’s here to challenge your assumptions.," 1 July 2020 But the strict rules that govern commercial shops mean that most artists have been at full stop during quarantine. Carly Stern, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area tattoo shops hope clients will have skin in the game when they reopen," 30 June 2020 Despite coming out ahead, Sinn Fein was unable to assemble enough support to govern. Fox News, "Centrist Micheal Martin to become Irish leader after historic coalition deal," 27 June 2020 Despite coming out ahead, Sinn Fein was unable to assemble enough support to govern. Danica Kirka, BostonGlobe.com, "Ireland’s Micheal Martin to lead historic govt coalition," 27 June 2020 When the forces that govern quantum mechanics are important, gravity is incredibly weak. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Tiny pendulum may reveal gravity’s secrets," 26 June 2020 Whether restaurants could deliver would depend on local laws that govern their business. James Salzer, ajc, "Georgia House gives final OK to home delivery of beer, wine and liquor," 25 June 2020 The second reason is that Mr Bolsonaro shows little ability to govern. The Economist, "Bello Does Jair Bolsonaro threaten Brazilian democracy?," 11 June 2020 Understand the policies and laws that govern police conduct. Andrew Ford, ProPublica, "I Cover Cops as an Investigative Reporter. Here Are Five Ways You Can Start Holding Your Department Accountable.," 4 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'govern.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of govern

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

History and Etymology for govern

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

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Time Traveler for govern

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for govern

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Govern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/govern. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for govern

govern

verb
How to pronounce govern (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of govern

: to officially control and lead (a group of people) : to make decisions about laws, taxes, social programs, etc., for (a country, state, etc.)
: to control the way that (something) is done
: to control or guide the actions of (someone or something)

govern

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

Kids Definition of govern

2 : to influence the actions and conduct of : control “… a kind word will govern me …”— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
3 : to serve as a rule for Laws governing the Internet are changing.
gov·​ern | \ ˈgə-vərn How to pronounce govern (audio) \

Legal Definition of govern

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 substitutes— W. 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

Other Words from govern

governable \ ˈgə-​vər-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce governable (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on govern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for govern

Spanish Central: Translation of govern

Nglish: Translation of govern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of govern for Arabic Speakers

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