[ guhv-er-ner, ‐uh-ner ]
/ ˈgʌv ər nər, ‐ə nər /


the executive head of a state in the U.S.
a person charged with the direction or control of an institution, society, etc.: the governors of a bank; the governor of a prison.
Also called governor general. the representative of the crown, as in the Commonwealth of Nations.
a ruler or chief magistrate appointed to govern a province, town, fort, or the like.
Machinery. a device for maintaining uniform speed regardless of changes of load, as by regulating the supply of fuel or working fluid.
British Informal.
  1. one's father.
  2. one's employer.
  3. any man of superior rank or status.

Nearby words

  1. government-in-exile,
  2. governmental,
  3. governmentalism,
  4. governmentese,
  5. governmenty,
  6. governor general,
  7. governor winthrop desk,
  8. governor's council,
  9. governorate,
  10. governors island

Origin of governor

1250–1300; Middle English governour < Old French governeor, gouverneur < Latin gubernātōrem, accusative of gubernātor, equivalent to gubernā(re) to steer, govern + -tor -tor

Related formssub·gov·er·nor, nounun·der·gov·er·nor, noun

Pronunciation note

In governor, the process of dissimilation—the tendency for neighboring like sounds to become unlike or for one of them to disappear entirely—commonly results in the loss of the first [r] /r/ of [guhv-er-ner] /ˈgʌv ər nər/, producing the pronunciation [guhv-uh-ner] /ˈgʌv ə nər/. This pronunciation is heard even in regions where postvocalic [r] /r/ is not usually dropped. A further loss, of the medial unstressed vowel, results in [guhv-ner] /ˈgʌv nər/. All three pronunciations are standard. See colonel, February, library. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for governor

British Dictionary definitions for governor


/ (ˈɡʌvənə) /


Related formsRelated adjective: gubernatorial

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 governor



c.1300, gouernour, "personal keeper, protector, guide," from Old French governeor (11c., Modern French gouverneur) and directly from Latin gubernatorem (nominative gubernator) "director, ruler, governor," originally "steersman, pilot" (see govern). Meaning "subordinate ruler; head of a province, etc." is from late 14c. The adjective gubernatorial remembers the Latin form.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper