govern

verb gov·ern \ ˈgə-vərn \
Updated on: 8 Nov 2017

Definition of govern

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

play \ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of govern in a Sentence

  1. The tribe is governed by a 10-member council.

  2. They want to form their own country and govern themselves.

  3. The scandal limited her ability to govern effectively.

  4. How would he govern if he were elected president?

  5. She suggested changing the state's laws governing the sale of alcohol.

  6. The council governs fishing in the region.

  7. We will be studying the forces that govern the Earth's climate.

  8. Tradition governs all aspects of their lives.

  9. He allows himself to be governed by his emotions.

Recent Examples of govern from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of govern

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

govern Synonyms


GOVERN Defined for English Language Learners

govern

verb

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

govern

verb gov·ern \ ˈgə-vərn \

Definition of govern for Students

governed; governing
1 :2rule 1
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.

Law Dictionary

govern

transitive verb 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

governable

play \ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl\ adjective


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