govern [guhv-ern] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin verb (used with object)

  1. to rule over by right of authority: to govern a nation.
  2. to exercise a directing or restraining influence over; guide: the motives governing a decision.
  3. to hold in check; control: to govern one’s temper.
  4. to serve as or constitute a law for: the principles governing a case.
  5. Grammar. to be regularly accompanied by or require the use of (a particular form). In They helped us, the verb helped governs the objective case of the pronoun we.
  6. to regulate the speed of (an engine) with a governor.

verb (used without object)

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

Origin of govern 1250–1300; Middle English Old French gouverner Latin gubernāre to steer (a ship) Greek kybernân to steerRelated 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, adjectiveSynonyms for govern 1. reign. 2. control, sway, influence, conduct, supervise, superintend.Synonym study 1. See rule.Antonyms for govern 1. obey. 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?

    Apology, Crito, and Phaedo of Socrates


  • 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.

    The Research Magnificent

    H. G. Wells

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

    The Tatler, Volume 3


  • British Dictionary definitions for well-governed well-governed adjective (well governed when postpositive)

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

    govern verb (mainly tr)

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

    Derived Formsgovernable, adjectivegovernability or governableness, nounWord Origin for govern C13: from Old French gouverner, from Latin gubernāre to steer, from Greek kubernan Word Origin and History for well-governed govern v.

    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.

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