govern

verb
gov·​ern | \ ˈgə-vərn \
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 \ adjective

Synonyms for govern

Synonyms

boss, captain, command, control, preside (over), rule, sway [archaic]

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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

Daffey says one of the biggest challenges now is creating an international legal system to govern the deployment of autonomous ships. James Vincent, The Verge, "Rolls-Royce is partnering with Intel to make self-driving ships a reality," 15 Oct. 2018 There will emerge new safe, positive places governed not by algorithms and monolithic companies, but curated by real people who have a passion for inspiring and uplifting other human beings. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Mark Zuckerberg became a wartime CEO," 20 Nov. 2018 Almost everyone agrees that having the rules for these recordings be governed by a patchwork of state laws makes no sense. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Senate passes copyright bill to end 140-year protection for old songs," 19 Sep. 2018 While the Queen struggles with her failing health, one of her closest confidants, Lady Sarah (played by Rachel Weisz), takes on the task of governing the country while also tending to Anne's growing demands. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Olivia Colman Plays (Another) British Queen in the Upcoming Drama The Favourite," 10 Aug. 2018 Resina notes that at the time, Catalonia was not governed by Castillian laws, and the king of Spain had to negotiate with the king of Barcelona each year to receive tax revenue from the region. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Beyond the Headlines, Catalan Culture Has a Long History of Vibrancy and Staying Power," 25 June 2018 For example, the American Kennel Club, the governing body of dog shows including the Westminster, recognizes 192 breeds and verifies a dog’s purebred status through its lineage. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "How Queen Elizabeth Was Fooled by a Fake Purebreed Dog," 18 Sep. 2018 By aligning MotoAmerica with the FIM, the governing body of MotoGP and WorldSBK, MotoAmerica set itself up to be seen as a legitimate part of the motorcycle racing world while providing a stepping stone for American talent. Mitchell Nicholson, Popular Mechanics, "The Great American Motorcycle Racing Revival," 7 Sep. 2018 Kendall-Jackson vineyard and winery has submitted an extremely in-depth proposal (15 pages!!) to Unicode Consortium, the governing body that sets global coding standards (a.k.a. Good Housekeeping Editors, Good Housekeeping, "There's Now an Official Plea for a White Wine Emoji," 26 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near govern

gouty stem

gov

Gove

govern

governance

governante

governess

Statistics for govern

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for govern

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

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More Definitions for govern

govern

verb

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 \
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 \

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 \ 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

Comments on govern

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