un·​gov·​ern·​able | \ ˌən-ˈgə-vər-nə-bəl How to pronounce ungovernable (audio) \

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

There are vast, ungovernable stretches of land in those two countries where terrorist cells and violent insurgencies fester. Kaj Larsen, National Review, "The U.S. Must Remain in Africa’s Fight against Boko Haram," 21 Aug. 2019 As Venezuela becomes more ungovernable, with sanctions having cut off much of its income, some argue, the fatigue afflicting many Maduro opponents has also begun affecting the regime. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, "With Maduro entrenched in Venezuela, Trump loses patience and interest in issue, officials say," 19 June 2019 President Trump, a pathological liar with a history of denigrating Puerto Rico, has been using the crisis to further his claim that the island is irredeemably corrupt and ungovernable. Time, "This is Puerto Rico's Moment for Real Change," 25 July 2019 What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Pavlik Morozov Is the Patron Saint of Cancel Culture," 2 July 2019 How much harder to make the case in the Balkans: Kosovo and Serbia are at daggers drawn, and Bosnia is an ungovernable mess. The Economist, "The EU must keep its promise to North Macedonia," 13 June 2019 The first is that politics becomes more extreme and polarized following a crisis; the second is that countries become more ungovernable as violence, protests and populist revolts overshadow the rule of law. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "The High Cost of Financial Panics," 10 Jan. 2019 So, more broadly, does the future of the narrative of men’s ungovernable desires. Anna North, Vox, "Les Moonves and the myth of uncontrollable male desire," 12 Sep. 2018 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 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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Statistics for ungovernable

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for ungovernable

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

More from Merriam-Webster on ungovernable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ungovernable

Spanish Central: Translation of ungovernable

Comments on ungovernable

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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