To govern is to rule, lead, oversee, or otherwise control. Each U.S. state has its own governor, whose job it is to govern the affairs of that state.

While it's true that governors govern — that is, they head the executive branch of their state government — there are lots of other ways to use the verb govern. Almost anything that controls or has a lot of influence over something else can be said to govern. The rules of tennis, for example, govern the way that game is played. In mechanics, a device that controls other devices is called a governor. My dog's basic needs govern the way my household is run: his schedule is our schedule.

Definitions of govern

v exercise authority over; as of nations

“Who is governing the country now?”
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sit on the throne as a ruler
govern badly
rule as a dictator
have sovereign power
grind down, tyrannise, tyrannize
rule a country as a tyrant
Type of:
command, control
exercise authoritative control or power over

v direct or strongly influence the behavior of

“His belief in God governs his conduct”
Type of:
command, control
exercise authoritative control or power over

v bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage; impose regulations

order, regularise, regularize, regulate
lift the regulations on
standardise, standardize
cause to conform to standard or norm
district, zone
regulate housing in; of certain areas of towns
adapt to a specified measurement
Type of:
decide, determine, make up one's mind
reach, make, or come to a decision about something

v require to be in a certain grammatical case, voice, or mood

“most transitive verbs govern the accusative case in German”
Type of:
ask, call for, demand, involve, necessitate, need, postulate, require, take
require as useful, just, or proper

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