verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to exercise the function of government.
to have predominating influence.

Origin of govern

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French gouverner < Latin gubernāre to steer (a ship) < Greek kybernân to steer
Related formsgov·ern·a·ble, adjectivegov·ern·a·bil·i·ty, gov·ern·a·ble·ness, nouno·ver·gov·ern, verb (used with object)re·gov·ern, verb (used with object)su·per·gov·ern, verb (used with object)un·gov·erned, adjectiveun·gov·ern·ing, adjectivewell-gov·erned, adjective

Synonyms for govern

Synonym study

1. See rule.

Antonyms for govern

1. obey. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for governed

Contemporary Examples of governed

Historical Examples of governed

  • America is the most governed and legislated country in the world!

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • It conflicted with every other emotion that governed his being.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Longitudinal stability is governed by means of the front rudder.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • Young men are so governed by fashion, and so afraid of ridicule.

  • The blow had driven in the fishermen, and we thought it wise to be governed by their experience.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for governed


verb (mainly tr)

(also intr) to direct and control the actions, affairs, policies, functions, etc, of (a political unit, organization, nation, etc); rule
to exercise restraint over; regulate or directto govern one's temper
to be a predominant influence on (something); decide or determine (something)his injury governed his decision to avoid sports
to control the speed of (an engine, machine, etc) using a governor
to control the rate of flow of (a fluid) by using an automatic valve
(of a word) to determine the inflection of (another word)Latin nouns govern adjectives that modify them
Derived Formsgovernable, adjectivegovernability or governableness, noun

Word Origin for govern

C13: from Old French gouverner, from Latin gubernāre to steer, from Greek kubernan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for governed



late 13c., from Old French governer (11c., Modern French gouverner) "govern," from Latin gubernare "to direct, rule, guide, govern" (cf. Spanish gobernar, Italian governare), originally "to steer," a nautical borrowing from Greek kybernan "to steer or pilot a ship, direct" (the root of cybernetics). The -k- to -g- sound shift is perhaps via the medium of Etruscan. Related: Governed; governing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper