[ guhv-ern-muhnt, ‐er-muhnt ]
See synonyms for: governmentgovernmentallygovernmental on

  1. the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration: Government is necessary to the existence of civilized society.

  2. the form or system of rule by which a state, community, etc., is governed: monarchical government; episcopal government.

  1. the governing body of persons in a state, community, etc.; administration.

  2. a branch or service of the supreme authority of a state or nation, taken as representing the whole: a dam built by the government.

  3. (in some parliamentary systems, as that of the United Kingdom)

    • the particular group of persons forming the cabinet at any given time: The prime minister has formed a new government.

    • the parliament along with the cabinet: The government has fallen.

  4. direction; control; management; rule: the government of one's conduct.

  5. a district governed; province.

  6. Grammar. the extablished usage that requires that one word in a sentence should cause another to be of a particular form: the government of the verb by its subject.

Origin of government

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Old French word governement.See govern, -ment

Grammar notes for government

pronunciation note For government

Normal phonological processes are reflected in a variety of pronunciations for government. Most commonly, the first [n] /n/ of [guhv-ern-muhnt] /ˈgʌv ərn mənt/ assimilates to the immediately following [m], /m/, with the resulting identical nasal sounds coalescing to give the pronunciation [guhv-er-muhnt]. /ˈgʌv ər mənt/. This pronunciation is considered standard and occurs throughout the U.S. For speakers in regions where postvocalic [r] /r/ is regularly lost, as along the Eastern Seaboard and in the South, the resulting pronunciation is [guhv-uh-muhnt] /ˈgʌv ə mənt/ or, with loss of the medial unstressed vowel, [guhv-muhnt]. /ˈgʌv mənt/. Further assimilation, in which the labiodental [v], /v/, in anticipation of the bilabial quality of the following [m], /m/, becomes the bilabial stop [b], /b/, leads in the South Midland and Southern U.S. to the pronunciation [guhb-muhnt]. /ˈgʌb mənt/. See isn't.

Other words from government

  • gov·ern·men·tal [guhv-ern-men-tl, ‐er-men‐], /ˌgʌv ərnˈmɛn tl, ‐ərˈmɛn‐/, adjective
  • gov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverb
  • coun·ter·gov·ern·ment, noun
  • non·gov·ern·ment, noun
  • non·gov·ern·men·tal, adjective
  • pro-gov·ern·ment, adjective
  • re·gov·ern·ment, noun
  • sem·i·gov·ern·men·tal, adjective
  • sem·i·gov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverb
  • sub·gov·ern·ment, noun
  • un·der·gov·ern·ment, noun
  • un·gov·ern·men·tal, adjective
  • un·gov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby government Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use government in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for government


/ (ˈɡʌvənmənt, ˈɡʌvəmənt) /

  1. the exercise of political authority over the actions, affairs, etc, of a political unit, people, etc, as well as the performance of certain functions for this unit or body; the action of governing; political rule and administration

  2. the system or form by which a community, etc, is ruled: tyrannical government

    • the executive policy-making body of a political unit, community, etc; ministry or administration: yesterday we got a new government

    • (capital when of a specific country): the British Government

    • the state and its administration: blame it on the government

    • (as modifier): a government agency

  1. regulation; direction

  2. grammar the determination of the form of one word by another word

Derived forms of government

  • governmental (ˌɡʌvənˈmɛntəl, ˌɡʌvəˈmɛntəl), adjective
  • governmentally, adverb

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