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

Keep scrolling for more

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]

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But the prime minister fell short of the 61 seats needed to govern by one, after his former ally Avigdor Lieberman refused to join his coalition because he was opposed to the influence of ultra-Orthodox religious parties. NBC News, "Netanyahu fights for his political life as Israel heads to the polls," 17 Sep. 2019 For nearly a half century, the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and St. Paul has wowed urban planners and good-government types with a progressive approach to governing that includes a one-of-kind system of tax sharing. Peter Krouse, cleveland.com, "What can Minnesota teach us about sharing? Cleveland 2030, A Way Forward," 16 Sep. 2019 Yet what commonly governs this choice isn’t love but self-interest. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Patrios," 16 Sep. 2019 Every country has important anniversaries or celebrations, but the Chinese Communist Party heavily politicizes dates such as this and uses them as opportunities to provide justification for the party's ongoing mandate to govern. Ben Westcott, CNN, "The date which has both Hong Kong and Beijing on edge," 14 Sep. 2019 They were sent to training in Canada in June and a new standard operating procedure was drafted to govern their work and ensure their communications with demonstrators are examined by supervisors, Outlaw said. oregonlive, "Cop cleared in controversy over his friendly texts with Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson before, during protests," 12 Sep. 2019 Put another way, the question is whether China’s Communist rulers can allow part of their territory to govern itself democratically. The Economist, "Hong Kong can be a gateway to liberal values for China," 10 Sep. 2019 Then in quick succession, a pair of brilliant results — one by Hawking himself — suggested that the equations governing black holes were in fact actual expressions of the thermodynamic laws applied to black holes. Quanta Magazine, "Are We All Wrong About Black Holes?," 10 Sep. 2019 Our five handpicked stories in today’s edition cover shrinking support for Joe Biden in New Hampshire, breaking governing taboos in Israel, a new symbol of hope in Afghanistan, and myth busting in Uganda and New England. The Christian Science Monitor, "The law that helps and heals," 10 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about govern

Dictionary Entries near govern

gouty stem

gov

Gove

govern

governance

governante

governess

Statistics for govern

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for govern

The first known use of govern was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up govern? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a topic to which one constantly reverts

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!