un·​gov·​ern·​able | \ˌən-ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl \

Definition of ungovernable 

: not capable of being governed, guided, or restrained

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Choose the Right Synonym for ungovernable

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control. unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior. unruly children ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others. ungovernable rage intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control. intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold. special schools for refractory children recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority. acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way. a willful disregard for the rights of others headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion. a headstrong young cavalry officer

Examples of ungovernable in a Sentence

The people there seemed almost ungovernable. a handful of ungovernable students are disrupting the learning environment for everyone else

Recent Examples on the Web

Their enmity is total, and the country is becoming ungovernable. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018 These and similar internal party disagreements mean that the GOP conference is all but ungovernable. Sarah Binder, Washington Post, "Immigration boiled over last week. Here’s what Congress did — and why.," 25 June 2018 Supporters of dividing California argue the nation's most populous state has become ungovernable because of its size, wealth disparities and geographic diversity. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "'Cal 3' backer urges court to dismiss lawsuit opposing California break-up plan," 14 July 2018 Yet the party of government is busy rendering Britain ungovernable. The Economist, "The Conservative Party has trashed the basic principles of conservatism," 12 July 2018 Even if Pakistan were a highly functional state, policing these nigh-ungovernable mountains would be a challenge. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Pakistan Is a Problematic Ally, But Trump Cutting It Off Won’t Change That," 7 Jan. 2018 As currently constituted, the VA is simply ungovernable. Rebecca Burgess, WSJ, "The VA Continues a Centuries-Long History of Scandal," 26 June 2018 Every society has to confront the ungovernable genie of sexuality and tries various ways to deal with it, and none of them work very well. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Carrie Director Brian De Palma Is Writing a Horror Film Based on Harvey Weinstein Scandal," 4 June 2018 Draper argues that California has been rendered ungovernable due to its population and diverse regional economies. Taryn Luna, sacbee, "Three Californias? What you need to know.," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ungovernable.' 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 ungovernable

1673, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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The first known use of ungovernable was in 1673

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English Language Learners Definition of ungovernable

: impossible to govern

: impossible to control

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by force of circumstances

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