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

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 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

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

18 Jun 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

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Spanish Central: Translation of ungovernable

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