Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.
  • transitive v. To control the speed or magnitude of; regulate: a valve that governs fuel intake.
  • transitive v. To control the actions or behavior of: Govern yourselves like civilized people.
  • transitive v. To keep under control; restrain: a student who could not govern his impulses.
  • transitive v. To exercise a deciding or determining influence on: Chance usually governs the outcome of the game.
  • transitive v. Grammar To require (a specific morphological form) of accompanying words.
  • intransitive v. To exercise political authority.
  • intransitive v. To have or exercise a determining influence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; to exercise sovereign authority in.
  • v. To control the actions or behavior of; to keep under control; to restrain.
  • v. To exercise a deciding or determining influence on.
  • v. To control the speed, flow etc. of; to regulate.
  • v. To exercise political authority; to run a government.
  • v. To have or exercise a determining influence.
  • v. To require that a certain preposition, grammatical case, etc. be used with a word; sometimes used synonymously with collocate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To direct and control, as the actions or conduct of men, either by established laws or by arbitrary will; to regulate by authority.
  • transitive v. To regulate; to influence; to direct; to restrain; to manage
  • transitive v. To require to be in a particular case; ; or to require (a particular case).
  • intransitive v. To exercise authority; to administer the laws; to have the control.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To exercise a directing or restraining power over; control or guide: used of any exertion of controlling force, whether physical or moral.
  • Specifically To rule or regulate by right of authority; control according to law or prescription; exercise magisterial, official, or customary power over: as, to govern a state, a church, a bank, a household, etc.
  • In grammar, to cause or require to be in a particular form: as, a transitive verb or a preposition governs a noun or pronoun in the objective case; the possessive case is governed by the thing possessed; the subject governs the verb in number and person.
  • To exercise or have control; practise direction or guidance; especially, to exercise legal or customary authority.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage; impose regulations
  • v. direct or strongly influence the behavior of
  • v. exercise authority over; as of nations
  • v. require to be in a certain grammatical case, voice, or mood

Etymologies

Middle English governen, from Old French governer, from Latin gubernāre, from Greek kubernān.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Anglo-Norman and Old French governer, Latin gubernō, from Ancient Greek κυβερνάω (kubernaō, "I steer, drive, govern") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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