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 govern (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 Board Vice President Emily Liles said this incident had distracted the board from its mission to govern the school district and improve student performance. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, "Grand Prairie School Board President censured for social media post discussing a student," 30 Mar. 2021 But raising expectations creates risks for a new president who faces potential roadblocks ahead, any of which could undermine the public’s confidence in his ability to govern and create openings for Republicans. New York Times, "Biden’s Goals Are Clear. Now He Has to Achieve Them.," 12 Mar. 2021 In a landmark ruling, Panama’s supreme court has cemented the Naso people’s right to govern and defend their ancestral land. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, "Points of Progress: India’s Karnataka state outlaws bonded labor, and more," 5 Feb. 2021 Winners ought to govern and losers ought to assume their watchdog role. Westen K Shilaho, Quartz Africa, "Kenyans should reject the latest round of proposed constitutional changes," 7 Dec. 2020 In that same time period, the companies did $29.3 million in business with the regents, who govern the system. Miranda S. Spivack, USA TODAY, "Public colleges hide donors who seek to influence students. Will COVID-19 make it worse?," 13 Aug. 2020 The Energy Charter Treaty is a binding agreement signed in 1991 to govern the way its signatories dealt with cross-border investments in the energy industry. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "The Obscure Treaty That Could Kill a Global Green Recovery," 8 July 2020 Finance chiefs also will need to get up to speed on financial regulations that govern public companies. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "When SPACs Come Calling, 5 Things a Startup CFO Needs to Know," 29 Mar. 2021 The regulatory rules that govern vaccine shipments present another hurdle, as does the limited storage life of the drug substances that make the vaccine. New York Times, "For Biden, a New Virus Dilemma: How to Handle a Looming Glut of Vaccine," 26 Mar. 2021

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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Govern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/govern. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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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 govern (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on govern

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