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

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

Prime Minister Theresa May's governing Conservatives came third with 7,243 votes, while the Liberal Democrats -- that support remaining in the European Union -- took 4,159 votes. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Peterborough by-election: Brexit Party loses to Labour in tight race," 7 June 2019 Common rules set by Sacramento are likely to produce outcomes that are inferior to those reached by local governing authorities. K.c. Alfred / The San Diego Union-tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Should Sacramento control short-term rentals, Airbnb in San Diego County?," 7 June 2019 China considers self-governing Taiwan part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. CBS News, "U.S. arms sale request from Taiwan draws warning of "serious harm" from China," 6 June 2019 Meanwhile in Taiwan, hundreds of people gathered in the self-governing island’s capital, Taipei, on Tuesday to mark the Tiananmen anniversary. Washington Post, "Hong Kong activists hold Tiananmen candlelight vigil," 5 June 2019 Track: Caster Semenya won an interim ruling in her fight against the IAAF and its testosterone regulations when the Swiss supreme court ordered athletics’ governing body to suspend the new rules. SFChronicle.com, "San Jose State, Hawaii football teams to play for Dick Tomey Trophy," 3 June 2019 Henning Larsen Architects designed the Eysturkommuna Town Hall as a central meeting place for the self-governing archipelago. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Stunning Nordic town hall is part of the landscape," 6 Aug. 2018 Clay said, referring to the unyielding principle that every A.A. group is self-governed and fully autonomous. Katrine Jo Andersen, The New Republic, "Rejected by A.A.," 27 June 2018 This idea of governing wasn’t lost on the Trump voters of 2016. WSJ, "President Trump Is Right: There Is a Border Emergency," 21 Feb. 2019

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

12 Jun 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 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

Comments on govern

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