[guhv-ern-muh nt, ‐er-muh nt]
See more synonyms for government 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.
  3. the governing body of persons in a state, community, etc.; administration.
  4. a branch or service of the supreme authority of a state or nation, taken as representing the whole: a dam built by the government.
  5. (in some parliamentary systems, as that of the United Kingdom)
    1. the particular group of persons forming the cabinet at any given time: The prime minister has formed a new government.
    2. the parliament along with the cabinet: The government has fallen.
  6. direction; control; management; rule: the government of one's conduct.
  7. a district governed; province.
  8. political science.
  9. 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
Related formsgov·ern·men·tal [guhv-ern-men-tl, ‐er-men‐] /ˌgʌv ərnˈmɛn tl, ‐ərˈmɛn‐/, adjectivegov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverbcoun·ter·gov·ern·ment, nounnon·gov·ern·ment, nounnon·gov·ern·men·tal, adjectivepro-gov·ern·ment, adjectivere·gov·ern·ment, nounsem·i·gov·ern·men·tal, adjectivesem·i·gov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverbsub·gov·ern·ment, nounun·der·gov·ern·ment, nounun·gov·ern·men·tal, adjectiveun·gov·ern·men·tal·ly, adverb

Usage note

Pronunciation note

Normal phonological processes are reflected in a variety of pronunciations for government. Most commonly, the first [n] /n/ of [guhv-ern-muh nt] /ˈgʌv ərn mənt/ assimilates to the immediately following [m] /m/, with the resulting identical nasal sounds coalescing to give the pronunciation [guhv-er-muh nt] /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-muh nt] /ˈgʌv ə mənt/ or, with loss of the medial unstressed vowel, [guhv-muh nt] /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-muh nt] /ˈgʌb mənt/. See isn't. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for governmental

Contemporary Examples of governmental

Historical Examples of governmental

  • When are the names of governmental bodies, departments, etc., capitalized?


    Frederick W. Hamilton

  • The question of governmental control of industry is an example.

  • He occupied all governmental offices, and was the arbitrator of domestic life.

    Mizora: A Prophecy

    Mary E. Bradley

  • There is nothing like it for giving commands or for governmental purposes.

    Virgin Soil

    Ivan S. Turgenev

  • Fomishka and Fimishka had a horror of governmental, that is to say, official people.

    Virgin Soil

    Ivan S. Turgenev

British Dictionary definitions for governmental


  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 ruledtyrannical government
    1. the executive policy-making body of a political unit, community, etc; ministry or administrationyesterday we got a new government
    2. (capital when of a specific country)the British Government
    1. the state and its administrationblame it on the government
    2. (as modifier)a government agency
  3. regulation; direction
  4. grammar the determination of the form of one word by another word
Derived Formsgovernmental (ˌɡʌvənˈmɛntəl, ˌɡʌvəˈmɛntəl), adjectivegovernmentally, 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

Word Origin and History for governmental

1774, from government + -al (1). Related: Governmentally. A Middle English word in the same sense was gubernatif (late 14c.).



late 14c., "act of governing or ruling;" 1550s, "system by which a thing is governed" (especially a state), from Old French governement (Modern French gouvernement), from governer (see govern). Replaced Middle English governance. Meaning "governing power" in a given place is from 1702.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper