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 well-governed

Historical Examples of well-governed

  • Will you, then, avoid these well-governed cities, and the best-ordered men?

  • Colombo is an especially well-regulated and well-governed town.

    The Pearl of India

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • As in the German's ideal of a well-governed city, everything is forbidden.

    The Fijians

    Basil Thomson

  • Very naturally he fell into thinking of these discreet and well-governed West End streets as a part of his mother's atmosphere.

  • There appears in the face of the woman a mixture of fear, hope, and modesty; in the bridegroom, a well-governed rapture.

British Dictionary definitions for well-governed


adjective (well governed when postpositive)

(of a political unit, organization, nation, etc) directed and controlled efficiently or satisfactorily


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 well-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