Definition of govern
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 : manipulateb : to control the speed of (a machine) especially by automatic means
3a : to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct ofb : to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over income must govern expenditurec : 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
1 : to prevail or have decisive influence : control In all situations allow reason to govern.
2 : to exercise authority
governableplay \ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl\ 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.
Origin and Etymology of govern
Middle English, from Anglo-French governer, from Latin gubernare to steer, govern, from Greek kybernan
First Known Use: 14th century
GOVERN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of govern for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
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
governable\ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl\ play adjective
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