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 To avoid possible corruption, there are rules that govern lobbying, and also the way that such requests ought to be communicated. Hasit Shah, Quartz, "These are UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s (current) scandals," 28 Apr. 2021 The rules that govern the Republican conference are nonbinding and largely symbolic. New York Times, "Senate Republicans Shun Earmarks, Embracing Spending Restraint Anew," 22 Apr. 2021 Well, maybe disappointed is the wrong word; rather, my date with Dwayne was a reminder of the antiquated gender rules that govern the heterosexual dating game. Lovely Brown, Glamour, "My Last Five Dates: Dalgona Coffee, a Motorbike Ride, and Sleeping With Men Again," 9 Apr. 2021 Minneapolis leaders have debated for at least a century how to best govern the city. Liz Navratil, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis voters will decide whether to grant mayor more power," 7 Apr. 2021 All of them were running to govern a city that wasn’t ready to share power. BostonGlobe.com, "As Walsh prepares to exit, change is coming to the mayor’s office," 21 Mar. 2021 The Legislature also has turned down requests to stiffen the rules that govern participating private schools. Leslie Postal, orlandosentinel.com, "Troubled Orange school gets millions in vouchers. State investigates after a teacher’s arrest and does nothing. Again.," 18 Mar. 2021 To an extent not seen in a century, America’s two major parties have gone to battle over the rules that govern voting — an intensifying fight that threatens to dominate and embitter the country’s politics. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: The fight over voting rights," 4 Mar. 2021 Trump, mischievously grinning, his rhetoric overflowing with absolutes, notes that Koch was the most corrupt and incompetent mayor ever to govern the city. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Dear Richard; Sincerely, Donald," 20 Aug. 2020

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Govern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/govern. Accessed 17 May. 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

Comments on govern

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