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

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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 Da Silva, who governed from 2003 to 2010 had been favored to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction eventually prohibited him from running. Washington Post, "Da Silva’s release brings new energy to Brazil’s opposition," 9 Nov. 2019 Da Silva, who governed from 2003 to 2010, had been favored to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction eventually prohibited him from running. NBC News, "Brazil's ex-president released from prison after court ruling that could free thousands," 8 Nov. 2019 Da Silva, who governed from 2003 to 2010, had been favored to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction eventually prohibited him from running. Mario Lobao, Anchorage Daily News, "Brazilian ex-president is released from prison," 8 Nov. 2019 The idea that our nation could be governed by the people and for the people is still about achieving the impossible together. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Looking for the leaker is wrong; Unity should be top priority; The Post can play a role in a return to civility (11/6/19)," 6 Nov. 2019 Until Turkey's incursion, that swath of territory had been under Kurdish control, and experts say the Kurds had governed it democratically – giving residents more freedoms than in much of the rest of the region. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "'It is a zone of death, and we're complicit': Why Evangelicals are upset with Trump's Syria policy," 3 Nov. 2019 In governing a vast and heterogeneous nation, with a history scarred by political disorder, its policymakers were apprehensive about the potential instability and uncertainty brought about by a free election for Hong Kong’s leader. Brian Wong, Time, "'One Country, Two Systems' Is Still the Best Model for Hong Kong, But It Badly Needs Reform," 30 Oct. 2019 But same-day registration has been implemented in some states governed by Republicans, such as Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Effort underway to significantly change elections in Arizona," 30 Oct. 2019 Not just in terms of winning but in terms of governing. The New Yorker, "Pete Buttigieg Talks Impeachment, Health Care, and the Political Spectrum," 17 Oct. 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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Statistics for govern

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce govern (audio)

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

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